Chicago Blackhawks: Lack of defensive help could hurt playoff hopes

The Chicago Blackhawks have set up four solid forward lines. The weakness of the team comes on defense.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ top-six forwards are Duncan Keith, Adam Boqvist, Erik Gustafsson, Connor Murphy, Olli Maatta, and Slater Koekkoek. They’ve lost Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook to injuries. Technically, the Blackhawks are two defensemen short.

Before the season started, I couldn’t find a room to add defensemen. Adding de Haan and Maatta was supposed to solve all the problems on defense. They’ve both missed time this season, de Haan will miss the rest of the season now.

Keith has stepped up in a big way this season. He has had a year where he’s revived his career. Having a young defenseman in Boqvist to back him up has made his season easier.

The team has been moving guys up constantly. Dennis Gilbert has been a player who has seen action in Rockford and Chicago. Gilbert has done his job well but he still isn’t ready to be a full-time NHL defenseman.

That leaves Murphy, Maatta, and Koekkoek. Murphy has played really well this season. He has been getting progressively better as the years have gone on. Maatta is a young defenseman who has played a lot of minutes. He has made some key plays when asked upon. Maatta still has been inconsistent. Koekkoek has been the definition of quiet. Just like ever defensemen, he makes plays. He has kept things quiet on his end for most of the season.

Both Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford have bailed out every player on the roster multiple times. They’ve both played well in net. They’d be even better if they had more depth on defense.

Getting through all of that, the Blackhawks have three solid defensemen. Those players are Keith, Murphy, and Boqvist. The rest have been inconsistent. If the Blackhawks want to make a bid at the Stanley Cup, they’ll have to add at least one defensemen to the roster.

They don’t need a number one defensemen, they need depth.

Here are some options.

Alec Martinez is someone who could help the team. The problem with him though is his contract. The Blackhawks would have to eat $4,000,000 AAV in 2021 if they traded for him. Also, how much would the Kings want for him?

Sami Vatanen is a good option for the Blackhawks. The issue comes down to how much the Devils would want for him. It’s clear that the Devils have given up on the 2020 NHL season. They’ll be in the running for the number one pick again in the summer. In a rebuilding stage, they’ll want draft picks out of the Blackhawks. It’s fair to assume Vatanen won’t re-sign with the Devils anyway.

The last player in mind is Trevor van Riemsdyk. van Riemsdyk is a former Blackhawks’ player. He would fit in well with the team. The great thing about getting van Riemsdyk is how his contract ends in the summer. That would make him a rental deal for the Blackhawks.

It’s going to come down to how much Stan Bowman wants to do for the defensive struggles. How much is too much to give?