Rozner: Blackhawks' search for defense continues

  • Chicago Blackhawks pick Kirby Dach could fill a big need as a No. 2 center.

    Chicago Blackhawks pick Kirby Dach could fill a big need as a No. 2 center. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/22/2019 12:18 PM

At first glance, it was surprising that the Blackhawks would pass on a defenseman with the third pick in the draft, especially one that's NHL ready and possessing such enormous upside.

But after dealing for Olli Maatta, an upgrade over much of what they had on the back end last year, the Hawks are searching for more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There's been talk in Vancouver the last couple days that the Hawks are looking at several more possibilities on defense, either through trade or free agency.

Among those thought to be available is San Jose's Brenden Dillon, who could be a Sharks cap casualty and would fit nicely in Chicago.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the 28-year-old Dillon has a mean side, something the Hawks desperately lack, and can move the puck, always a necessity in today's very fast NHL.

He's signed for a year at $3.27 million and then he's unrestricted, so it makes sense for the Sharks to be thinking about where to save some cash after signing Erik Karlsson for $11.5 million annually for eight years. San Jose is still trying to get a couple big-name veterans inked.

There's also conversation surrounding Colorado and 27-year-old Tyson Barrie, unrestricted after he earns $5.5 million next season, and 24-year-old restricted free agent Nikita Zadorov.

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Barrie would be a huge get but you wonder whether the Avalanche would pull the trigger on a deal in the division.

Colorado's selection of the best defenseman in the draft, Bowen Byram at No, 4, will be a constant reminder of what the Hawks might have secured Friday night, but they did not come away without -- potentially -- a terrific player.

At No. 3 they selected 6-foot-4, 198-pound center Kirby Dach, and considering the Hawks have needed a No. 2 center since Moses was in short pants, this could be huge for the Hawks, pun fully intended.

The Hawks have been small and soft for a decade, which they survived because of depth of lineup and dominating skill, but minus both they've been exposed of late.

Dach plays hard and he pushes back, but the Hawks got him for his skill, length and playmaking ability.

When you're compared to Ryan Getzlaf at 18 years old, that's a pretty decent comp, but his demeanor and presence was something several NHL teams noted during prospect interviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's worth remembering that the Hawks have hit on plenty of forward picks during the Stan Bowman era, many of which were panned at the time.

It's hard to argue with the likes of Kevin Hayes (No. 24), Brandon Saad (43), Andrew Shaw (139), Teuvo Teravainen (18), Vinny Hinostroza (169), Ryan Hartman (30), Nick Schmaltz (20) and Alex DeBrincat (39th).

Lest we forget, there was much laughing when the Hawks took Saad, Teravainen and especially the 5-foot-7 DeBrincat.

The Hawks went defense with the first two picks in each of the last two years and must feel confident in what they have on the way, or what they believe they can add in the next few weeks.

Either way, the Hawks are finally starting to add some size to the lineup, which is a positive, and they are better today than they were when the season ended.

There's a reason the dollars go to the best centers and puck-moving defensemen, and one can assume the Hawks' focus will remain in those areas.

They have a ways to go, obviously, and now Colorado -- along with Vegas -- is going to be a popular pick to reach the Cup Final out of the West.

With some cap space in the Hawks' pocket, the next two weeks could be very interesting.

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