The Chicago Blackhawks defense has seen a number of different players take their spot on the ice with the team. With the off-season on the horizon, it is time to discuss some things that need to change on the blue line.
The Blackhawks looked improved this season. Even without Dach for the majority of the year and Jonathan Toews since day one, the team still managed to score goals thanks to great young players like Hagel and Kurashev stepping into the lineup and making a difference.
The goaltending has also been great as well, Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban have really had some good games stealing wins for the Hawks. Yes, they also had some bad nights, but overall they have been great.
Now the only real area the team needs to get better is goaltending. Since 2017 the Hawks defense has been less than perfect and I do not know when that is going to change. So let’s talk about the blue line and why it needs to change.
The Chicago Blackhawks defense has just one player without a contract next season, Nikita Zadorov.
Zadorov is the only defenseman in need of a contract. While there still is a chance the team loses a defenseman to Seattle, they should be able to hold onto everyone else minus the one. Now, even though the team can bring back a similar group, there are still some players that might need to be dealt.
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Connor Murphy is the new face of the Blackhawks blue line. While there have been some ups and downs to his season this year, for the most part he has been great. I want the Hawks to bring him back and keep him here for the long term as he is a reliable defenseman that plays physically.
Here are the pairings from the past few games:
Kalynuk – Murphy
Keith – Boqvist
Stillman – Zadorov
The team has been playing with seven defensemen as of late so that also includes Nicolas Beaudin and Calvin de Haan before he got injured. The team has made it clear they really like Kalynuk. There is no doubt that he is going to be a staple in the lineup for years to come, and this contract for Stillman really makes me think Bowman sees something in him and expects him to be in the lineup often.
The Hawks have a number of defensive prospects from Ian Mitchell to Nicolas Beaudin. If the team is not going to truly expect to see Beaudin or Mitchell in the NHL next season then maybe they will consider moving them in the off-season in order to bring in a different prospect.
We will have a lot of time this summer to discuss the Hawks defense and what they are missing. For now when you are watching the rest of the games try and keep in mind that the defense is still changing.