#3: Re-sign Slater Koekkoek
One nice surprise that the Blackhawks had throughout the season was the performance of Slater Koekkoek. Originally acquired via the Jan Rutta trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Koekkoek was a promising young defenseman who was excluded from Tampa’s loaded blue line. In his first year with the Blackhawks last season, Slater tallied 1-goal and 4-assists in 22-games played. He also had a +/- of +4.
This year he continued to play fairly well for the Hawks. He scored one goal and added nine helpers in 42 games played. For a team that has many defensive question marks, Slater was third on the team with a +/- ratio of +3. That number was better than every Hawks defenseman other than Calvin De Haan, who only played 29 games.
Koekkoek looked solid throughout the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and the first round of playoffs too. He tallied 3 points in the 9 games that Chicago played in the postseason. He’s also only 26 years old, so he still could develop even more. His current cap hit is only $925,000 so I would project him to want to receive anywhere in the $1-1.5 million range, therefore making him a very affordable 3rd pairing defenseman for the Blackhawks.
Even though the Blackhawks have a lot of defensive help on the way, Slater looks to be a solid depth defenseman for the Hawks to have in their arsenal moving forward.