The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping a revamped defense can help them get back on track to the postseason. But they face a tough road.
Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks underwent a lot of changes. There was no bigger change than the firing of long-time head coach Joel Quenneville. Jeremy Collition replaced him, and as expected, there were some growing pains. The Blackhawks defense was terrible, as they allowed the second-most goals in the NHL and the second-most shots against.
They wasted the most productive season of Patrick Kane’s career, a 40 goal season from Alex DeBrincat, and a strong bounceback year from Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawks were aggressive in fixing their defense this summer. They deserve credit for that. But did the Blackhawks do enough?
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Added: Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, Robin Lehner, Ryan Carpenter, Alex Nylander, Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Aleksi Saarela, Dominik Kubalik
Lost: Artem Anisimov, Brandon Davidson, Gustav Forsling, John Hayden, Henri Jokiharju, Dominik Kahun, Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, Cam Ward
The Blackhawks surprised everyone on July 1 by signing Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner to a one-year deal. Lehner’s going from one of the best defenses in the NHL to one of the worst, so it will be interesting to see how he does. But a tandem of Lehner and Corey Crawford could be a very good one.
Give credit to general manager Stan Bowman for addressing the defense. Calvin de Haan is injured and has a long injury history, but when he’s on the ice, he’s a very capable defenseman. Olli Maatta is one of the slowest defensemen in the NHL, but he’s also one of the smartest. He should help the Blackhawks improve in their own zone.
The Blackhawks also added to their forward group. They brought back a familiar friend in Andrew Shaw. He’s coming off a terrific season, but regression could be coming for him. Still, Shaw’s a very capable top-nine forward who can play up in the top-six if needed. Nylander could replace Kahun’s role. He’s talented, but he hasn’t impressed much yet. Ryan Carpenter should help their penalty kill.