Getting to Know the 2021 Chicago Blackhawks: Defense | Bleacher Nation

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Getting to Know the 2021 Chicago Blackhawks: Defense

Chicago Blackhawks

Here at Bleacher Nation Blackhawks, we’re kind of the new kid in town. And with that mindset, we understand that some of our readers might be new, or returning, to the team. Wherever you land, we want to give you an introduction to the players that will make up the 2021 Blackhawks roster and what we’re looking forward to, or not looking forward to, in the upcoming season.

Today: Defense
Previous: Forwards

Headliners

#2 Duncan Keith – Left Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 3 Goals, 24 Assists, 27 Points, 24:23 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2022-23, $5.5M AAV, No-Movement Clause
•   Synopsis: Longest tenured player on the roster. Future Hall of Famer. Plays in all situations. Will lead the team in time on ice this year (agai). Turning into “Hockey Jesus.”

#27 Adam Boqvist – Right Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 4 Goals, 9 Assists, 13 Points, 16:13 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $894,167 AAV, Entry-Level Contract (waivers exempt)
•   Synopsis: Starting to get footing at the NHL level. Potential to be the next in line to be Blackhawks’ top defenseman. Lots of offensive potential. Lots of work to do on his defensive skills. Reminds me of Hermey from “Rudolph.”


#44 Calvin de Haan – Left Defense/Right Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 1 Goals, 5 Assists, 6 Points, 19:55 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $4.55M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Defensively-sound defender. Used a lot on penalty-kill and as a shut down player against opponents’ top lines. Reliable when healthy.

#5 Connor Murphy – Right Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 5 Goals, 14 Assists, 19 Points, 21:15 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $3.85M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Another defensively reliable defender. Big, can be physical at times. Sees a lot of time on penalty-kill and against opponents’ top lines. Great in the community.

Depth

#16 Nikita Zadorov – Left Defense/Right Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 4 Goals, 9 Assists, 13 Points, 17:46 TOI (with Colorado Avalanche)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $3.2M AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Brought over to Chicago in the Brandon Saad trade. Big and physical. Big and physical. Big and physical.

#7 Brent Seabrook – Right Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 3 Goals, 1 Assists, 4 Points, 18:09 TOI
•   Contract: It’s bad…Signed through 2023-24, $6.875M AAV, No-Movement Clause
•   Synopsis: Let’s hope for the sake of our sanity, “Bionic Brent” comes back to the Blackhawks and is useful this season. Had shoulder and double-hip surgery nearly a year ago. Almost was ready to return in July, but didn’t. Has yet to skate at training camp, which is not a great sign.

#55 Nick Seeler – Left Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 0 Goals, 1 Assists, 1 Points, 11:56 TOI (6 games with Minnesota Wild, 6 games with Blackhawks)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $725,000 AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: I have to be reminded Seeler is on the roster from time to time. Roster filler. Physical, but not good enough to be a fixture for the Blackhawks beyond this season. Likely a taxi squad member this season.

#54 Anton Lindholm – Left Defense
•   2019-20 Stats: 0 Goals, 1 Assists, 1 Points, 11:47 TOI (4 games with Colorado Avalanche, 45 AHL games)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $742,500 AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Also brought to Chicago in the Brandon Saad trade. Roster filler. Likely heading to the Rockford IceHogs or taxi squad this season.

#43 Chad Krys – Left Defense/Right Defense
•   2019-20 AHL Stats: 2 Goals, 6 Assists, 8 Points, 18 PIM (41 games with Rockford IceHogs)
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $853,333 AAV, Restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Former second-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2016. Still waiting to show substantial improvements since being drafted. Decent puck-mover and offensive threat, but likely playing with Rockford IceHogs again this season.

Prospects

#51 Ian Mitchell – Right Defense
•   Synopsis: This kid better be good because that’s all we’ve been promised since being drafted in the second-round in 2017. Going to be given every opportunity, earned or not, to get NHL minutes this season. Stan Bowman has staked a lot of his reputation on Mitchell succeeding. Good skater, good vision, great mind for the game.

#46 Lucas Carlsson – Left Defense
•   Synopsis: Made his NHL debut last season and made quite the impression. Decent skater. Likes to create offensive chances. Puck protection and defensive responsibilities need work. Likely going to see some NHL time this year.

#48 Wyatt Kalynuk – Left Defense/Right Defense
•   Synopsis: A former 2017 draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, signed by Chicago this summer. Former Wisconsin Badgers Captain (On Wisconsin). Has impressed early in training camp with his skating ability. Great vision and puck movement. Has experience lighting up the United Center already.

#74 Nicolas Beaudin – Left Defense/Right Defense
•   Synopsis: Commonly overshadowed by fellow 2018 first-round Blackhawks draft pick Adam Boqvist. Had a slow start to rookie season in AHL last year. Found more rhythm in game late in the year. Made NHL debut last season. Good skater, good puck mover, lots to learn defensively. Likely going to be on the taxi squad or playing heavy minutes with Rockford IceHogs.

#75 Alec Regula – Right Defense
•   Synopsis: Only 20-years-old, but already turning heads in the organization. Likely going to make professional debut with the Rockford IceHogs this season. Biggest defenseman at training camp. Moves well for his age and size. Solid defensively for his age and likes to create offense on the rush.

What to Watch for:

The Blackhawks have been AWFUL defensively the past two seasons.

Chicago led the league in shots allowed per game last season (35.1) and second-most per game in 2018-19 (34.7). Part of it is due to the personnel on the ice, part of it is due to the change in defensive system run by Joel Quenneville to the one run by Jeremy Colliton. As a team, the Blackhawks tried to address their poor defensive game by adding forwards who are more defensively-inclined, but also by trying to beef-up the blue line with a player like Zadorov. This will be the third season in which Colliton is implementing his system and if it continues to trend in the same direction, I can’t imagine the Blackhawks finding ANY success in 2021.

We Really Like:

The youth mixing with the vets.

It looks like Adam Boqvist is ready to take the next step in his development and playing alongside Duncan Keith last season played a major role in that. Boqvist might get a shot to play with Keith again, but early indications in camp show Colliton maybe pairing Boqvist with more defensive-minded guys like Murphy and de Haan. Ian Mitchell is also getting the same opportunities to play alongside the responsible de Haan and Murphy. If Chicago can find the right mixture in their defensive group, the growth of the young players could be accelerated even in a shortened season.

We Might Be Worried About:

Everything. Literally everything is worrying.

Keith is old. Seabrook is old and maybe broken. Murphy and de Haan won’t carry you to the playoffs, let alone a Stanley Cup. What if Boqvist plateaus and Mitchell drowns in year one? You don’t have Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner to bailout awful defense this season. You have to do all you can to help Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban avoid firing squads night after night and I am less than optimistic this lineup will be able to do that.

2021 Forecast: