Chicago Blackhawks' Offseason Agenda: Defense
*Part two of a three part series of the Chicago Blackhawks offseason agenda*
In this second part of my three part series on the Chicago Blackhawks offseason agenda we will focus on the Chicago Blackhawks defense and what changes, if any, need to be mad to the Blackhawks blue line.
Here is a list of the players the Blackhawks currently have under contract as well as those who will be free agents in the defensive core.
Defensemen Under Contract
Of the names listed above I would have to say that there are two players that have the greatest probability of not making the roster, Brent Sopel and Jordan Hendry. Brent Sopel only played 23 games last season and in those 23 games he did not play well recording only two points and a plus-minus rating of -4.
Sopel aslo has a cap hit of $2.333 million which I am sure that general manage would like to move it to add a top four defenseman.
As for Jordan Hendry it might be a case of their not being enough room for him because if Tallon is unable to move Sopel they are likely to add another depth defensemen and that will likely move Hendry to the bench or back to the AHL.
Restricted Free Agents (Defensemen)
The Blackhawks only have on restricted free agent and it is former first-round pick Cam Barker. Barker had a great year for the Blackhawks and established himself as the premier point shot on the Blackhawks power play.
This last season Barker had a cap hit of $2.442 and it is likely that Tallon will try to sign him to a similar deal for a longer term but there is also speculation that the 'Hawks could look to move Barker for a cheaper defensemen.
Unrestricted Free Agents (Defensemen)
As for the Blackahawks unrestricted free agent defensemen, its two role players Aaron Johnson and Matt Walker, played well when they were in the lineup.
Johnson was slowed by a shoulder injury but up to that point he was never a minus in a game thay he played in.
Even though he preformed well it is likely that he will not be resigned unless the 'Hawks are desperate for a depth defenseman.
It was clear throughout the season that Matt Walker was one of Coach Joel Quenneville's favorite players and he played to the best of his abilities. This summer Dale Tallon looks focused on adding a top-four defenseman and that does not fit Matt Walker.
Like Johnson, Walker is more of a depth defenseman but since Quenneville has a soft spot for the guy I would imagine that if the 'Hawks still need a seventh defenseman he might get a call from Tallon.
Free Agent Targets
Although the Blackhawks spent the big bucks last season on defenseman Brian Campbell, they should still be focused on adding another defenseman to play in the top four.
A name many Blackhawks fans have been talking about is Mattias Ohlund, and he seems to be the best fit for what the Blackhawks need, but the biggest sticking point is how much he will want.
Ohlund is coming off of a contract that paid him $3.5 million per season and it is likely that he will be looking for a pay raise.
Could the Blackhawks cap support Ohlund's contract, Campbell's contract, Barker's contract, Seabrook's contract and Keith's contract?
Unlikely, but if Brent Sopel's contract can be moved and Ohlund is the only free agent that is added then it could be a reality.
Two names that the Blackhawks might look at for value additions to the blue line are Rob Scuderi and Johnny Oduya. Both Scuderi and Oduya are solid defensemen that could come at a cheaper price than Hal Gill, Francois Beauchemin, and Mattias Ohlund.
Scuderi has been a solid defenseman and goaltender (see Stanley Cup Finals game six) for the Pittsburg Penguins this season. Although he is not a point producer he is good in his own end, which is what the Blackhawks need since they already have an offensively charged blue line.
Oduya is very similar to Scuderi in that he is a good defensive defenseman but Oduya does put up better offensive numbers than Scuderi.
The Blackhawks already have the offense to be a Stanley Cup competitor but their defense has shown that it is also up to the challenge.
All the Blackhawks need to do on defense is fill some holes and make their defense just a little more responsible in their own end.
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