The Blackhawks have signed defenseman, Slater Koekkoek, to a one-year deal worth $925,000. By signing Koekkoek, the Blackhawks have solidified the back end of their defense and it won’t break the bank.
Slater Koekkoek was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 11, 2019. After joining the Blackhawks, Koekkoek provided a steady presence on the blue line in a fluctuating role.
Koekkoek never seemed to find a steady role, whether it be on the 2nd defensive pairing, 3rd defensive pairing, or as a 7th defenseman. Whenever Jeremy Colliton gave him ice time, Koekkoek took advantage. His up-in-the-air role didn’t seem to affect him much though, as he posted a very respectable stat line.
In 22 games with the Blackhawks, Slater Koekkoek posted 5 points (1G, 4A) with a 4 ± rating and 16:27 ATOI. When you project his stats with the Blackhawks over the course of an 82-game season, those 5 points become 19 points. That’s respectable for a 3rd pairing defenseman. His defensive awareness was a sight for sore eyes as well.
For any Blackhawks fans that are concerned with the signing, there’s really no need to be. A 1-year deal at a very affordable rate doesn’t hurt the Blackhawks in any way, especially if Koekkoek contributes the way he did last season. They are projected to still have about $21.394 mil in cap space to use for this offseason.
If another defenseman outplays him and earns a roster spot over him, then keep him around as a reliable 7th defenseman or send him to Rockford. The Blackhawks could even trade Koekkoek for assets down the line. Have I mentioned that this is a bargain deal as well?
Another way to look at the Slater Koekkoek signing is maybe he becomes a 2nd pairing defenseman. A full offseason and training camp under Jeremy Colliton could do Koekkoek some good. He was drafted 10th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012, so there is some upside here.
If things don’t pan out, then no harm is done really. The Blackhawks have plenty of young defensemen who are on the verge of cracking the roster. Although this may not be a “big time” signing, the value and potential make it a good one.