3. What does the blue line look like next season?
The Blackhawks only have two defensemen on expiring contracts, so this team could look really similar next season. Both Lucas Carlsson and Nikita Zadorov are on expiring deals. Considering Zadorov is making 3.2 million dollars this season, I do not know how quickly I would move at handing him another contract like that.
While the defense next season might not look that different when it comes to the names involved, it will be different due to the development of some of the players. Four of the Blackhawks defensemen who have broken into the lineup this season are under 24. If they can take a step forward and take on more significant roles this team is in good shape.
Here is how the blue line should look next season.
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Duncan Keith – Ian Mitchell
Nicolas Beaudin – Connor Murphy
Calvin de Haan – Adam Boqvist
Initially, I thought that the Blackhawks should have traded Murphy or de Haan sometime this season, but due to how well the team has played, tossing aside one of those two defensemen would be a bad step for the team.
Connor Murphy has quietly become the face of this blue line being the leading defensemen ready to go when the team is trying to protect the lead. Murphy at just 27 years of age can continue to take on a prominent role on this team for years to come, and with the other young players coming up behind him, this blue line can be really good for years to come.
The foundation is there for the Blackhawks blue line, now all the team needs to do is let the young players play in some critical moments this season to let them gain some experience. It was great seeing Mitchell and Beaudin score goals as of late, as having the defense get involved in the offensive zone will only lead to great things down the line.