10. Robin Lehner
Can you believe the Blackhawks signed Robin Lehner? It still hasn’t sunken in for me. We could be looking at the Blackhawks’ starting goalie for the foreseeable future.
Lehner, 28, is coming off a career-best season in which he won the Bill Masterson Trophy and shared the William M. Jennings trophy with Thomas Greiss.
It is extremely rare to be able to sign a goalie in his prime, but Bowman and the Blackhawks pulled it off.
Good thing too, because Corey Crawford is playing on an expiring contract and it could be his last season. Signing Lehner is arguably the best insurance policy of all-time.
If you haven’t seen Robin Lehner in action before, I have you covered. You’re not going to want to miss this spectacular highlight reel. I can’t wait to see the best goaltending tandem in the NHL in 2019-20.
<img class=”size-large wp-image-90063″ src=”https://blackhawkup.com/wp-content/uploads/getty-images/2018/08/1065939362-850×560.jpeg” alt=”Duncan Keith shoots” width=”590″ height=”389″ /> (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
9. Duncan Keith
Chicago runs on Duncan (sorry, Dunkin’ Donuts). Duncan Keith has been such a monumental fixture on the Chicago Blackhawks’ defense for so long that most of us take him for granted.
Keith is a living legend and his resume is seemingly endless. Countless awards, multiple Stanley Cups, an expensive trip to the dentist, so on.
Keith had such a miserable 2017-18 season that most fans were writing him off. Much to the haters’ dismay, he dug deep and had a great bounceback season in 2018-19.
The Blackhawks are going to need another couple of seasons like 2018-19 if they are going to squeeze another Stanley Cup out of this core.
As his ice time dwindles, the next wave of Blackhawks’ defensemen needs to step up and help Duncan Keith bare the weight. I’m looking forward to seeing a much improved defensive unit led by Keith in 2019-20.
8. Brent Seabrook
Brent Seabrook is an absolute workhorse who has left his mark on the city and the Chicago Blackhawks’ franchise.
He is now approaching his 15th NHL season and he isn’t quite the same player he once was, but that’s understandable.
The problem with Seabrook isn’t his natural decline, but rather his contract. As long as he plays for the Blackhawks, the longer we have to deal with that ugly piece of paper and the dollar signs on it. Although it isn’t an ideal situation, it can be managed.
I’m sure Jeremy Colliton is well versed in the current Seabrook dilemma, so hopefully, he begins to cut back on Seabs’ ice time.
Seabrook can still be effective in small doses. He blocked 180 shots (4th most in NHL) and compiled 124 hits last season, which is pretty impressive.
Last season, Brent Seabrook was at 19:06 ATOI which is a bit high for my liking. I’d like to see a couple more minutes shaved off and for him to be used in the right situations.
Maybe pair him up with a defenseman like Calvin de Haan, who has a long history of carrying his defensive partner.
Erik Gustafsson had a crazy 2018-19 season. He went from being part of a defensive rotation to being healthy scratched, to finally, exploding offensively and really coming into his own. He started from the bottom and now he’s here — about to be paid handsomely.
Gustafsson grinded his way out of obscurity last season and put himself into a position where he can be successful and play to his strengths.
Everyone knows he’s not a defensive defenseman, but the lamp operator is going to get a heck of a workout by firing up the lamp so often. Gustafsson posted a career-best 60 points (17G, 43A) with a -6 ± rating in 79 games.
Gustafsson is playing on an expiring contract and this will be a huge storyline throughout the 2019-20 NHL season.
If he can put together two monster seasons in a row, then I can only imagine how much money he is going to get.
Evolving Wild is currently projecting Erik Gustafsson to receive a 6-year, $38,366,370 ($6,394,395 AAV) deal. Is he worth it? I’ll leave that one up to you to decide.
6. Adam Boqvist
Adam Boqvist has been pegged as the next coming of superstar defenseman, Erik Karlsson.
While initially, I had some doubts, his performance during the 2018-19 season was off the charts.
In fact, I actually bought an Adam Boqvist Blackhawks home jersey. That’s how confident I am.
In his first season of North American hockey with the London Knights of the OHL, Boqvist left no prisoners. He produced 60 points (20G, 40A) with a 12 ± rating in 54 games. Boqvist even had a 4-goal game.
In case the 4-goal game wasn’t enough for you, I have more. Check out these elite offensive and defensive moves by Boqvist in Blackhawks’ development camp from a few weeks ago.
Adam Boqvist looks like the real deal and has already committed to going pro this season, so we will be seeing him in a Chicago Blackhawks’ sweater or a Rockford IceHogs’ sweater.