This offseason projects to be a busy one for Chicago Blackhawks’ GM, Stan Bowman, as he looks to reshape the Blackhawks into a playoff team.
Towards the end of the season, the Blackhawks seemed to have found their groove under rookie head coach, Jeremy Colliton. They finished six points out of a playoff spot, a feat that looked impossible after the firing of long time head coach, Joel Quenneville.
Even though the Blackhawks were just a few points out of a playoff spot, there were still some serious warts on this team: their inability to defend, their lack of depth down the middle of the ice, and their inconsistency with depth scoring.
These three needs are going to need to be addressed this offseason if the Blackhawks are going to get into contention during the 2019-2020 season.
The biggest need in many analysts and fans minds is the Blackhawks’ defense that was exposed constantly in their own end.
Erik Gustafsson had a breakout offensive season, but was a mess in his own end. Brent Seabrook’s mileage is catching up with him and plagued him much of the season, and Duncan Keith just isn’t the elite defenseman he once was.
There is some talent waiting in the wings for the Blackhawks with the likes of Henri Jokiharju, Adam Boqvist, and Nicolas Beaudin. They are all players who look to have an impact on this roster in the coming years, but there needs to be a shift now.
They cannot run out players like Carl Dahlstrom, Slater Koekkoek and Gustav Forsling again hoping that they can develop into top four defenseman, because that is just not what they are. They are just depth players and true NHL defenseman need to be injected into this line up.
One name that I mentioned in my article last week who I think Stan Bowman should have his eye on is Vegas Golden Knights’ defenseman, Colin Miller.
Why Colin Miller?
Last season was not a kind one for Colin Miller, who battled the vague “upper body” injury during the middle of the season. He also spent a good chunk of time in head coach Gerard Gallant’s doghouse.
However, Miller still had a very solid season. Plus, he’s only 26 years old and seems to still have a good chunk of hockey left in his tank.
Miller is seen as a puck moving defenseman who can quarterback a power play and deliver a deadly shot from the point. This is something that suffered this season, as he only scored 3 goals compared to 14 goals the prior season.
Miller is probably not the prototypical defenseman that Blackhawks’ fans think of when they want a defensive upgrade, but his ability to move the puck up the ice, as well as his ability to maintain possession, is underrated.
He was 10th on the Golden Knights (3rd among defenseman) in Corsi For Percentage (56.9%). Sure, he was 10th on the Golden Knights in CF%, but that also would have put him FIRST on the Blackhawks. Dylan Sikura was rated the highest with a CF% of 55.1%.
The highest Blackhawks’ defenseman you might ask? That would be Slater Koekkoek with a 51.8% CF, in only 22 games. The highest regular defenseman being Erik Gustafsson, who was just barely over 50% with a CF of 50.8%.
Basically, what it comes down to in the NHL game is making sure that you are able to possess the puck. Adding a player like Colin Miller will immediately boost your possession numbers.
If the Blackhawks do have interest in Miller, they will need to take a number as it seems the entire league is going to be lining up to get a piece of him.
Miller is a young player, with good possession numbers and a reasonable contract of $3.875 million for the next three season. This is a relative bargain in today’s capped NHL.
The cost could be high and the suitors might be many. If the Blackhawks want to ensure an upgrade on the back-end, then Stan Bowman better be on the phone to George McPhee right now, because Colin Miller will be a hot commodity this offseason.