For day 23 of our 2019-20 season countdown, we will focus on one of the Chicago Blackhawks’ defensemen, Slater Koekkoek.
Slater Koekkoek was a midseason acquisition during the 2018-19 season and played fairly well when given a chance. Koekkoek has top-6 potential, but with all of the new additions to the defense, he is considered a 7th defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks. He has also become expendable in the process.
Player Spotlight: Slater Koekkoek
Slater Koekkoek was brought to the Blackhawks via a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. He might not see any playing time in the NHL this year.
Before we look ahead, let’s look back at the sequence of events leading up to Slater Koekkoek landing in Chicago, and then, his performance with the Blackhawks.
Koekkoek was drafted 10th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012. He has only played in 107 games through his 6-year career.
Koekkoek, who was once a highly coveted NHL prospect, needed a fresh start. Chicago gave him that opportunity.
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Koekkoek did his job on the Blackhawks’ defense last season, however, he was just average. Like much of the Blackhawks’ defense last year, it was average or below average.
I mean, the ‘Hawks did have the 2nd worst goals-against total in the NHL (292), so no defenseman played phenomenally.
Koekkoek has spent most of his career in the AHL and has just been on the wrong side of a deep NHL team.
Koekkoek does have some playoff experience, as he played in 10 games during Tampa Bay’s playoff run in 2015-16.
Koekkoek was traded to the Blackhawks for Jan Rutta, who played in 14 games last season with the Lightning.
Rutta did gain some playoff experience last season, playing in all 4 of the Lightning’s losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.
I don’t think there was a clear set winner or loser in this trade. Koekkoek has not made a name for himself in Chicago, and neither did Rutta with Tampa Bay. However, both players did receive a 1-year contract extension with their new teams.
Slater Koekkoek will most likely spend this season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Although, if the injury bug strikes the blue line, you might see Koekkoek back in a Blackhawks sweater in 2019-20.