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Blackhawks: What to expect from Brent Seabrook next season?

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Brent Seabrook #7, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Brent Seabrook #7, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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As the glory days of this Blackhawks team fade into distant memory, Seabrook’s effectiveness on their blue line seems to as well.

Brent Seabrook has been known as a dynamic, offensive, aggressive defender since joining the league full-time with the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2005-06. And he displayed those traits prominently throughout their Stanley Cup runs of 2010, 2013, and 2015. He’s also part of an exclusive group of current players that have won all three championships with the team, which includes himself, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane.

He was rewarded with a contract extension in September 2015, an eight-year agreement kicking in as of the 2016-17 season and his fourth with the organization. After having his most productive regular season that year, accumulating 49 points in 81 games, it seemed like great foresight to have locked him in for as long as they did.

Seabrook is committed to the Blackhawks until the end of the 2023-24 season. He will be 38 when that time comes. If you base his AAV of $6,875,000 on his performance leading up to this deal, it can be argued that he has earned every penny. However, the question now is whether the organization will continue to get the value back to justify the expense. As a team that is already facing the salary cap ceiling, their money needs to be working for them, not against them.

Since the 2015-16 season, he has seen an ongoing decline in both his points and ice time. As 2019-20 came into focus, Seabrook’s once seemingly steady presence on the blue line began to be challenged in more ways than one. He entered the season as a 34-year-old veteran, his production was on pause, and what came next was something he wasn’t accustomed to having to deal with to that point his career.

In December 2019, it was announced that Seabrook would miss the remainder of the year. He has had surgery on his right shoulder and left hip, with the expectation that he’d be able to return as of the 2020-21 season.

Throughout his career thus far, his lowest number of regular-season games played was 47. But that was in the shortened 2012-13 season that only had 48 to begin with. His next fewest was 69, which was his rookie campaign of 2005-06. Beyond those two anomalies, he’s steadily played in 78 or more games throughout every season. Until this one.

Seabrook participated in only 32 games throughout 2019-20, contributing three goals and one assist with an average time on ice of 18:09. These stats all being the lowest his career has seen to date in those categories. Injuries may have played a factor in sidelining Seabrook, but his lack of point totals in those he played in is a concern in and of itself. Perhaps his peak years of performance were misjudged when working out the details of this current deal.

Putting things into perspective and to more fairly assess the player himself, it’s important to outline that Seabrook has now enjoyed a career consisting of 15 years in the NHL and three Stanley Cup victories that he was a major part of along the way.

The average career length in this league is 5.5 years and there are legends of the game that haven’t even hoisted the Cup once. Brent Seabrook has been a vital member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization throughout his career. Shifting the conversation to his current value, and contracted years to come, does not undermine any of that.

Seabrook has a no-move clause in his contract until the end of the 2021-22 season, and a modified no-trade clause throughout the remaining 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons. In short, the only way to trade him is if he agrees to it. Although it may be difficult to imagine a scenario where that could occur, it’s not an impossibility.

Of course, there are other options – he could be bought out or choose to retire. But those are far less likely and include their own complexities, which make them less than ideal routes for the Blackhawks. Simply stated, if Chicago wants to move on from Seabrook any time soon then they’ll need to find a suitable trading partner, willing to work with them and this contract.

No one can deny that his leadership on this squad has had an impact beyond the scoresheet throughout the years. But it would be wise for the Blackhawks to begin to expect more of a roster spot that is paid to produce. Besides, this team doesn’t need more veteran voices, as they already have plenty of it with players like Toews still leading their locker room. They need wins.

Related Story. Is there value in an aging Jonathan Toews?. light

As for next season, we know what Brent Seabrook is capable of and certainly hope he can get back to peak performance. But, if the results aren’t there as the year plays on, then the Chicago Blackhawks might need to get creative in finding a way to see to it that he isn’t either.

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