How Does The Blackhawks' Blue Line Stack Up For the Future?

Social Navigation


How Does The Blackhawks’ Blue Line Stack Up For the Future?

Chicago Blackhawks

With news on Monday that the Blackhawks have signed another defenseman, Filip Roos, Chicago now has 14 players signed for next season to occupy the blue line.

Simple math tells us six skaters in Chicago plus six skaters in Rockford equals 12… so 14 is a couple bodies more than the organization can dress on any one night. The Hawks also have some players from the 2021-22 season who are hitting free agency this summer, specifically restricted free agent Caleb Jones. His brother, Seth, is signed long-term so the decision about his future could be a tricky one for first-year general manager Kyle Davidson.

As we noted when we shared our Top Ten Prospects in the Blackhawks organization, most of the next wave of players coming to Chicago could be defensemen. Five of our top ten were from the back end. And we saw a handful of young defensemen get action with the NHL club this season and the previous year.

So how will thing sort out next year? Let’s take a look at who is coming back.

NHL Roster

Seth Jones
Age: turns 28 on Oct. 3
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 213
Shoots: Right
Signed: thru 2030 — $9.5 million AAV
2021-22 Avg TOI: 26:13 in 78 games
Acquired: via trade from Columbus

Connor Murphy 
Age: 29
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 212
Shoots: Right
Signed: thru 2026 — $4.4 million AAV
2021-22 Avg TOI: 21:46 in 57 games
Acquired: via trade from Arizona

Jake McCabe 
Age: turns 29 on Oct. 12
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 204
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2025 — $4 million AAV
2021-22 Avg TOI: 20:18 in 75 games
Acquired: signed as free agent

Riley Stillman 
Age: 24
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 196
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2024 — $1.35 million AAV
2021-22 Avg TOI: 15:04 in 52 games
Acquired: via trade from Florida

Note the line regarding how each of these players was acquired. None one of the four veterans was drafted by the Blackhawks; three were brought in via trade (four if we want to include Caleb Jones and he’s brought back) and one, McCabe, was signed as a free agent (last summer). It’s been a while since the Blackhawks had a predominantly homegrown blue line. But that could change in the future if the prospects start being integrated at the NHL level.

That group of four skaters does not include Caleb Jones. As we noted earlier, he’s an RFA this summer and the depth in the organization makes his future here cloudy at best. There are elements to his game that we can like but his cap demands and the front office’s plans with younger skaters could make him tricky to re-sign.

Todd Reicher – IceHogs

Prospects

Ian Mitchell
Age: 23
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 173
Shoots: Right
Signed: thru 2023
Acquired: via draft — 2nd round (No. 57) in 2017

Alex Vlasic
Age: turns 21 on June 5
Ht: 6-6 Wt: 199
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2024
Acquired: via draft — 2nd round (No. 43) in 2019

Alec Regula
Age: turns 22 on Aug. 6
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 218
Shoots: Right
Signed: thru 2023
Acquired: via trade from Detroit

Isaak Phillips
Age: turns 21 on Sept. 28
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2024
Acquired: via draft — 5th round (No. 141) in 2020

Jakub Galvas
Age: turns 23 on June 15
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 161
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2023
Acquired: via draft — 5th round (No. 150) in 2017

Filip Roos
Age: 23
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 192
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2024
Acquired: signed as free agent

Nicolas Beaudin
Age: turns 23 on Oct. 7
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 183
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2023
Acquired: via draft — 1st round (No. 27) in 2018

Nolan Allan
Age: 19
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 194
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2024
Acquired: via draft — 1st round (No. 32) in 2021

Louis Crevier
Age: 21
Ht: 6-8 Wt: 214
Shoots: Right
Signed: thru 2024
Acquired: via draft — 7th round (No. 188) in 2020

Ethan Del Mastro
Age: 19
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 206
Shoots: Left
Signed: thru 2025
Acquired: via draft — 4th round (No. 105) in 2021

That’s ten defensemen before we consider re-signing Wyatt Kalynuk, who is an RFA this summer.

It’s worth noting that seven of the ten prospects are left-handed shots. And seven of the ten prospects is at least 6-foot-2 so the old complaints about the lack of size in the organization appears to be a thing of the past. But only one — Regula — was acquired via trade.

Four of these prospects — Mitchell, Galvas, Regula and Beaudin — will be RFAs after the 2022-23 season. With just one year remaining on their respective entry-level contracts, this will be an interesting summer for each. Mitchell established himself as a top-pair defenseman in Rockford this season and Galvas showed some good offensive instincts, while Regula looked good in his time on the NHL roster.

Phillips, Crevier and Del Mastro are intriguing because they were late-round picks who signed earlier than expected; Allan was Chicago’s first-round pick last year. Phillips spent a lot of time on Rockford’s top pair with Mitchell this season and they played well together.

Beaudin, who will be 23 this coming season, was a healthy scratch early in the IceHogs’ playoffs this year; he may have been passed on the depth chart by a number of other prospects this season and, entering the final year of his contract, may be a name to watch in trade conversations.

The addition of Roos, 23, is another older prospect to consider in this mix.

More coming?

Of course those are the 14 defensemen who are under contract for the 2022-23 season. Chicago also still has the rights to three NCAA defensemen from the last two draft classes:

•   Wyatt Kaiser, their third-round pick in 2020 who is entering his junior season at Minnesota-Duluth
•   Taige Harding, their third-round pick in 2021 who is heading to a sophomore season at Providence College
•   Connor Kelley, their seventh-round pick from 2021 who is transferring from being Kaiser’s teammate at UMD to be Harding’s teammate at Providence.

And the Blackhawks may add more to the pipeline in this summer’s draft. Chicago has eight picks in the 2022 NHL Draft.



Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab