A closer look at Chicago Blackhawks' defensemen, goalies

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford after the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 March 5 at the United Center.

    Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford after the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 March 5 at the United Center. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/23/2020 4:51 PM

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman will have some difficult decisions when the NHL off-season arrives.

Chief among them will be determining the fate of forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome, both of whom are restricted free agents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Bowman and coach Jeremy Colliton must also figure out how they want the back end to look. There are myriad options, and we'll attempt to lay out as many as we can in Part II of our player-by-player lookahead.

Duncan Keith:

Stats: 3 goals, 24 assists, 24:23 average time on ice in 61 games

Contract status: Three years remaining with a $5.538 million cap hit

The skinny: Keith will be 37 next season, but he's hardly slowing down. He'd be a fantastic second-pairing, second power-play unit D-man on a true title contender, so maybe Bowman asks Keith to waive his no-movement clause. Obviously it would be better for the Hawks if Keith could be in that role in 2-3 three years, so it's probably better to stand pat with the hope he can make one more run with the team that drafted him 18 years ago.

Brent Seabrook:

Stats: 3G, 1A in 32 games

Contract status: Four years remaining with a $6.875 million cap hit

The skinny: Seabrook is a proud man. A true pro and a true leader behind the scenes. The feeling here is that -- despite undergoing three surgeries in about two months -- he will definitely want to play again. The Hawks will likely give him that shot, but my guess is he begins next season on long-term injured reserve and they'll reevaluate as the weeks go on.

Connor Murphy:

Stats: 5G, 14A, career-high 21:15 ATOI in 58 games

Contract status: Two years remaining with a $3.85 million cap hit

The skinny: Murphy has really developed into a better overall defenseman the past three seasons. Known as a stay-at-home D-man when he arrived in 2017, Murphy has averaged 7.5 goals per 82 games the past two seasons -- with no power-play time. It's not inconceivable to think he could be in Chicago for the next 6-8 years.

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Calvin de Haan:

Stats: 1G, 5A in 29 games

Contract status: Two years remaining with a $4.55 million cap hit

The skinny: Losing de Haan to a shoulder injury in December was a big blow. At the time, the veteran was third in the league with 2.5 blocks per game and was starting to step up his offensive game with Keith (groin) sidelined. Having de Haan around for 82 games would be a huge coup for the Hawks, but how likely is that considering he has dislocated a shoulder three times in three seasons?

Olli Maatta:

Stats: 4G, 13A in 65 games

Contract status: Two years remaining with a $4.083 million cap hit

The skinny: Maatta had an uneven, up-and-down campaign. He certainly helped stabilize the penalty kill but also was a liability in his own end far too often for a seven-year veteran. Part of me thinks he's a buyout candidate, especially considering it would only cost the Hawks about $680,000 against the cap for the next four seasons. He played decently down the stretch, however, and figures to be on the third pairing again next season.

Adam Boqvist:

Stats: 4G, 9A in 41 games

Contract status: Two years remaining with an $894,167 cap hit

The skinny: All things considered, Boqvist had a very successful rookie season. What was truly impressive was how the 19-year-old admitted he was struggling a few weeks ago, then told us what he was doing to improve. Watch for Boqvist to take a significant step next season and a quantum leap in 2-3 years.

Slater Koekkoek:

Stats: 1G, 9A in 42 games

Contract status: Restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights

The skinny: Koekkoek hasn't lived up to his lofty draft status (10th overall in 2012), but he did finally carve out a consistent role this season alongside Olli Maatta during the last 26 games. The guess here is the Hawks re-sign him to a one- or two-year deal and he's given the chance to compete for a job amid a crowded 'D' corps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Others: Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Ian Mitchell, Dennis Gilbert, Ian McCoshen

• Skating with Keith in the Hawks' final game, Beaudin looked fantastic. Ideally, he gets another half season in Rockford to grow his game.

• Carlsson was solid in his six NHL games. He'll likely start in Rockford next season.

• Mitchell scored 10 goals in 36 games for the University of Denver. Assuming he signs, Mitchell could easily be on the opening-night roster.

• Gilbert is a hard-nosed D-man who isn't afraid to drop the gloves, but he needs more seasoning.

• A bit of a wild card, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound McCoshen could give the Hawks some much-needed size. He was acquired from the Panthers and was the 31st overall pick in 2013.

Goalies

Corey Crawford:

Stats: 16-20-3 with a .917 save percentage and .277 goals-against average

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

The skinny: Crawford was sensational during the final two months, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.35 GAA. One concussion could end his career, however, so it will be interesting to see what happens. A one-year deal for $5 million seems to make sense, but it also wouldn't shock me to see Bowman thank Crawford for his contributions and sign a different free agent.

Malcolm Subban:

Stats: 9-7-3 with a .890 save percentage and 3.17 GAA

Contract status: RFA with arbitration rights

The skinny: Acquired in the Robin Lehner deal, Subban has been a backup for three straight seasons. The Hawks could let him go, but it seems to make more sense to give him a short-term deal with the plan to keep him in that role.

Others:

Colin Delia (.912, 2.66 in Rockford) and Kevin Lankinen (.909, 3.03 in Rockford) could compete for the backup job. With Lankinen out 4-5 months after shoulder surgery, the 25-year-old Delia figures to have the upper hand. The Hawks also could have Matt Tompkins and 6-foot-4, 213-pound Ivan Nalimov in camp. Nalimov, 26-year-old Russian, signed a professional tryout to play the rest of the season in Rockford on March 7.

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