Just 2 games into the season I wrote an article announcing how I believed Alex Vlasic was going to become a full time top 4 player for the Blackhawks. Two dozen or so games later, I believe I was on to it earlier than most. At 6'6 with an imposing reach, great stand up checking, and an improving two way facet of his game Alex Vlasic is earning the attention of his opponents.
The 22 year old Wilmette native was a 2nd round pick (the rumor after the draft was that they wanted Drew Helleson whom went earlier) in 2019. After 3 seasons at Boston University and an AHL season in Rockford it's now quickly become apparent that Vlasic has found a home in the Blackhawks top 4 for the foreseeable future.
In Vlasic's first two call ups he combined to produce 3 points in 21 games over the 21-22 and 22-23 seasons. This year, given the ice time increases, he already has 6 points (26 games) and more importantly shown an increase in physical play. From gap coverage, activation in the O-zone, and not shying away from board battles it's become evident that other teams are having to focus on him when trying to enter the zone.
As a young defender making under a million a year entering an RFA season, the Blackhawks would be wise to lock him up before long in my view. To make it worth both parties time, you'd have to think that Kyle Davidson would like to buy up at least 1 or 2 years of UFA term. That would put any deal in the 4 to 5 year range. His play of late puts him in the 3-4.5million per range for me. I'm curious if Alex Vlasic and his camp would see a 5/17.5m extension as a deal that both sides could get behind. That would put Vlasic in the prime of his career as a UFA, but also (potentially) buy up a top 4 player for +2 UFA years early. To me, it would be a win-win and something that Hawks management should be looking at already.
Overall, in a season where the wins (again) are not easy to get it's these type of players that get me excited about the future. With Vlasic (and Kevin Korchinski) in the fold, the Chicago blue line could have found their next winning era's top defensive defenseman.