Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks Defensive Depth Chart Heading Into 2021

By Jimmy Lynch
Chicago Blackhawks, Adam Boqvist #27 (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks, Adam Boqvist #27 (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Defense wins championships, and while the Chicago Blackhawks won’t be winning any championships anytime soon, their core group of defenders might already be around.

The Chicago Blackhawks depth on the blue line is pretty remarkable. The group features so many promising young defenders; the only issue is that there are so many other players ahead on the depth chart.

Today I think it might be fun to dive into the Blackhawks’ depth on their defensive sheet heading into 2021. While they have some high-end talent, many of their younger players are still a few years away from hitting their prime. Plus, they have a few too many older defenders taking up roster spots.

Chicago will have to rely on eight or nine defenders throughout the season due to injuries and having so many games in so little time during a tough schedule. So let’s take a look at the names we will see this season.

The Defensive Depth:

1. Duncan Keith

This Keith guy seems to be pretty good at hockey. Duncan Keith is entering his *checks notes* 16th season with the Chicago Blackhawks; Keith has seen it all. Even though Keith is 37 years old, Chicago will rely heavily on the two time Norris Trophy winner to help the team in their own end. At this point in his career, Keith has continued to be productive, but most importantly, he is a resource to the next two players on this list.

2. Adam Boqvist

We had a snippet of what Adam Boqvist can be with the Blackhawks last season when he played in 41 games. Averaging 16:13 minutes of ice time a night, Boqvist was a big piece of the blue line, but now he is ready to take the next step. Hopefully, putting up more than four goals and nine assists, I can not wait to see what Boqvist brings to the ‘Hawks.

3. Ian Mitchell

This next player needs no introduction. One of the most hyped-up players to sign with the team within the past year, Mitchell is going to get a shot in the NHL. Hopefully, this former second-round pick can turn into a high-end offensive defenseman in Chicago.

4. Connor Murphy

Connor Murphy has gotten better every year with the ‘Hawks. After a rocky start with the team when Chicago sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Murphy, he slowly became one of the team’s top defenders. Murphy has size and skill, and I think he will continue to be one of the team’s top shut down defenders throughout this season.

5. Calvin de Haan

Calvin de Haan was a welcome surprise when Chicago added him to their lineup last offseason. Now entering his second season with the team, he has proven to be a great player to put alongside players like Brent Seabrook. Who knows what the future holds for de Haan and the Blackhawks as he is on an expiring contract, but hopefully, we get another great season from de Haan.

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6. Nikita Zadorov

The latest addition to Chicago’s blue line was added via a very questionable trade. Zadorov has size and is a very physical player; however, he was spotty with the Colorado Avalanche. Hopefully, Zadorov is ready to take the next step in his career and help some of the younger players move forward with Chicago alongside a massive defender.

7. Brent Seabrook

It looks like Seabrook might be a sixth or seventh defenseman this coming season with Chicago. Seeing how this Blackhawks legend copes with limited ice time and maybe missing some games will be interesting. However, following his recent surgeries, maybe he will be better than ever on the ice.

8. Nick Seeler

Seeler played six games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. While Chicago does have many younger, more likely options for their blue line next season, Seeler definitely has more experience than some other players on this list. Thus far, Seeler has played in 103 games over the course of his career and has registered 162 blocked shots.

9. Wyatt Kalynuk

In my eyes, Kalynuk is another young defender on par with Ian Mitchell as an option for the Blackhawks’ blue line. After getting drafted by the Flyers in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft, Kalynuk went unsigned and hit free agency. Chicago picked up the blueliner, adding another young name to their pipeline. If Kalynuk earns an opportunity to play, it will be interesting to see what the former University of Wisconsin hockey player does with Chicago.

10. Alec Regula

Drafted in the third round by the Detroit Red Wings in 2018, Regula is another option for Chicago if the team needs someone. With the London Knights, last season Regulas put up 27 goals and 33 assists in 56 games. Honestly, the 20-year-old does have a lot of offensive upside, and after a season in Rockford, could be something in the NHL.

11. Lucas Carlsson

The Blackhawks fourth-round pick in 2016 has seen some NHL time with six games under his belt thus far. Carlsson even got into one playoff game last season with Chicago. Carlsson could be a prime pick for the taxi squad next season, assuming Chicago does not want to put too many young prospects in that group to make sure they are playing more.

12. Nicolas Beaudin

I think everyone wants to see more of Nicolas Beaudin. Chicago’s 2018 27th overall pick has not reached much of the NHL yet. While he does have some defensive upside with his physical play and ability to keep opponents away from the net, he hasn’t been able to push his game to the next level into the NHL. Hopefully, the 21-year-old will be higher on this list next season and can live up to being a first-round draft pick.

13. Chad Krys

Chad Krys has spent time with the Rockford Icehogs the past two seasons; however, he has not gotten the call up to the NHL for any games yet. While it might take some injuries to get Krys into the NHL for a game, the former second-round pick from 2016 needs to stay ready with Chicago.

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14. Anton Lindholm

When the Blackhawks traded for Nikita Zadorov, it looked like Anton Lindholm was just a piece of the trade, not much of a gem. Hopefully, the new Blackhawks defender will prove everyone wrong and maybe can be a piece of this team in the future. At 26 years old, Chicago can use Lindholm on their taxi squad and not risk hurting the development of one of their younger defenders, or they can choose to place him in Rockford to be a leader to some of the other guys around.

What defenders do you think we will see more of next season? Personally, I think we will see some trades throughout the year to clear up some spots for some of the younger options on this team, but either way, this will be a lot of fun to watch.

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