Top 5 best discount defensemen the Blackhawks can sign in NHL free agency

The Chicago Blackhawks most likely won’t attract any big-name defenseman during NHL free agency, thanks to their current rebuild.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages
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Ilya Lyubushkin will add a physical presence on the bottom pairing

Ilya Lyubushkin has been stellar with not one but two franchises this season, spending most of it with the Anaheim Ducks before returning to Toronto to help the Maple Leafs get more physical on their blue line. Yet despite his successful run this year, Lyubushkin isn’t the type of player who will demand more dollars or a longer term on his next contract. 

He’s been a journeyman lately, having spent no longer than one full season anywhere since the 2020-21 season, and there is little chance he will stick around in Toronto. Lyubushkin, like other players on this list, also wouldn’t get in the way of any young defenseman in the pipeline and would be perfectly fine continuing his role on the third-pairing. 

His numbers, however, don’t lie, and this season, he has racked up 127 hits and 145 blocked shots on goal in just 60 games. He gives you that stay-at-home presence that is clearly unafraid of contact, and Lyubushkin has been a key piece on penalty kill units regardless of where he plays. 

Lyubushkin also boasts plenty of experience on young hockey teams, or teams not expecting to contend, including the Ducks, the Buffalo Sabres, and, in his earlier days, the Arizona Coyotes. This gives him enough experience to be a respected name in Chicago’s locker room next season if he’s willing to play for yet another rebuilding organization.