Defensive Changes Being Made by the Chicago Blackhawks

Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks
Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

Some small, but important defensive changes by the Chicago Blackhawks were lost in the commotion around Alexander Ovechkin scoring his 800th goal. Let's be fair, scoring 800 goals is a big deal, and Ovi will go down in league history as one of the NHL's greats. Will he reach Wayne Gretzky? Even though it's never fun to see another team's player make the history books against you, we can all appreciate the milestones that Ovechkin is passing this year. Cheering on accomplishments doesn't just have to be for fans of that one team.

As fascinating as Ovechkin's pursuit of history will be to watch, in Chicago, things move incrementally for the rebuild. There were a couple of roster changes among the blue-liners that could be noteworthy. First, Filip Roos was sent down to play in the AHL with the Rockford Ice Hogs. This is good in the sense that Roos will be afforded more opportunities to play, although it probably isn't what he wanted. What is perhaps more interesting is that Ian Mitchell dressed for his fifth game for Chicago this year. Caleb Jones was a healthy scratch against the Capitals.

Since being drafted, Mitchell has spent most of his time with Chicago playing for the team's AHL affiliate in Rockford. The Blackhawks picked Mitchell in the second round in 2017, but he's only played 52 games in the NHL. There's been speculation about how his development has been handled. This is touched on briefly in a recent article about Mitchell for NBC Sports by Charlie Roumeliotis.

"During his rookie NHL season, Mitchell bounced around from the minors to the taxi squad to the NHL and it probably messed with his development a little bit. He mentally feels like he's in a much better spot."

Charlie Roumeliotis

Seeing that Mitchell is back with the Blackhawks is a positive thing as far as his development as a player. What's even more promising for the 23-year-old is that he's playing over Caleb Jones and Filip Roos, the latter having been sent down prior to the game with Washington. Will a highly regarded prospect be able to thrive under a new head coach?

People that have played under Richardson in the past gushed about how great a coach he is, and in an article by Bleacher Nation's Tab Bamford, there are numerous quotes underlining that very sentiment. Richardson's last role was as an assistant coach in Montreal, focusing mostly on defence. Since his arrival, I've wondered what kind of effect he would have on the team, especially defensively. With so many young players in the organization, including Mithcell, having someone that can get the most out of the roster will be important.

The fact that Mitchell may now be slotting into the lineup over other players could be a positive development and is something to pay attention to this season. It can't all be doom and gloom, despite what the standings say. There need to be signs that progress is being made. if Mitchell finally makes the leap into the NHL and can stick, it will be a step forward that previous coaches weren't able to facilitate.