Amidst all the summer moves the Blackhawks made this year, one deal that may have disappeared off the radar could play a role in the coming season.
When the Hawks traded restricted free agent Andrew Ladd to the Atlanta Thrashers, most fans joked that Ladd would become another member of “Chicago South,” joining Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel. But the Hawks may have added an intriguing young player in that deal in Ivan Vishnevskiy.
Vishnevskiy, 22, was the 27th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Dallas Stars, and has the talent to become a solid puck-moving defenseman and power play quarterback at the NHL level. He’s moved around quite a bit in the last two seasons (playing for five different locations, including two invitations to the Stars), but has been a productive player everywhere he’s been.
In three seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, Vishnevskiy scored 144 points (44 goals, 100 assists) in 159 games. Last year, he made stops in three locations and combined to score 36 points in 81 games, including two goals and 10 assists in 28 games with the Chicago Wolves.
Vishnevskiyis a fluid skater who moves up and down the ice well withthe puck, but is listed at just 6’0 and 185 pounds. He might have trouble with some of the physical power forwards in the Central Division, but could be a sleeper to make the Hawks roster as a third-pair defenseman and an asset on the power play.
He was one of the top prospects in the Atlanta organization, as was center Jeremy Morin (acquired in the Byfuglien trade), and could be ready to stick in the NHL this year after playing five games with Dallas in the last two seasons. Vishnevskiy doesn’t have the ceiling that Nick Leddy does, but he has a very similar game, is a couple years older and has NHL experience.
Vishnevskiy has a cap number of $821,667 and might be a name to remember as we get closer to the season. Moving into the future, Vishnevskiy and Leddy developing into solid puck-moving defenseman could also enable the Blackhawks to be more aggressive in trying to move Brian Campbell, as either/both could replace his role on the team soon.