The Blackhawks Have Too Many Defensemen

With news that the Blackhawks have signed Isaak Phillips on Wednesday morning, what is clear is that something has to give before the NHL Trade Deadline. The Hawks have too many defensemen under contract.

Coach Jeremy Colliton has already been managing a long list of options on the blue line at the NHL level. He has established veterans Duncan Keith, Connor Murphy, Calvin de Haan and Nikita Zadorov dressing every night. Adam Boqvist appears to be locked into the NHL lineup as well.

Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Madison Bowey and Wyatt Kalynuk have all received ice time this year as well.

That’s ten defensemen.

Only two of those ten – Zadorov and Carlsson – aren’t signed beyond the 2021 season. Both of them are restricted free agents this summer.

Phillips joins Alec Regula, Chad Krys and Anton Lindholm as players on the Rockford roster who have an NHL contract. Of those four, Lindholm is the cheapest ($742,500 cap hit) and has the shortest deal; his contract expires at the end of the 2021 season.

Regula, 20, is listed at 6-4 and 207 pounds and is a right-handed shot. He has appeared in 11 games with the IceHogs this season. Chicago acquired Regula from Detroit; the Red Wings selected him in the third round (#67 overall) in 2018. His entry-level contract has a $866,667 cap hit and has two years remaining after the 2021 season.

Krys is a long-shot to reach the NHL. Lindholm, 26, appears to be a placeholder in Rockford.

But that’s 14 defensemen with an NHL contract. Even with the Blackhawk carrying between two and four defensemen on the taxi squad this year, they have plenty of bodies on the blue line.

Rockford also has NHL veteran Cody Franson on an AHL contract. The IceHogs have also been playing Cole Moberg and Michael Krutil this season.

Moberg, 20, was a seventh round pick by the Blackhawks in 2019. He has appeared in nine game for the IceHogs this season. He’s listed at 6-3 and 187 pounds and is a right-handed shot.

Krutil, who turns 19 in June, was a fourth round pick by the Hawks in 2020. He has appeared in 12 games with Rockford this season. Krutil is listed at 6-3, 205 pounds and is also a right-handed shot.

That makes two bloated depth charts on the blue line between Chicago and Rockford. And we aren’t including Brent Seabrook in this discussion because his playing career is over.

Of the young players in the organization, there is a mix of right-handed and left-handed shooting defensement.

  • Right-handed: Mitchell, Boqvist, Bowey, Regula, Moberg, Krutil.
  • Left-handed: Beaudin, Kalynuk, Carlsson, Phillips, Krys.

The good news is there’s size on the way. If you look at the heights and weights we listed, you’ll notice a trend: Phillips, Regula, Moberg and Krutil are all listed around 6-3 and in the neighborhood of 200 pounds.

The Blackhawks also have big defensemen coming from recent drafts. Alex Vlasic (6-6, 200) was a second round pick in 2019 and had a solid sophomore season at Boston University. He is also a left-handed shot.

Obviously the organization needs to be mindful of the upcoming expansion draft. But Bowey getting ice time with the NHL club makes him eligible for the expansion draft; Chicago has checked that box already.

What makes the signing of Phillips perhaps more important is that his deal begins next season; Chicago is at 49 contracts right now. The NHL contract limit per organization is 50. But, as we have outlined, there aren’t many defensemen coming off the books next year (if they keep Carlsson and/or Zadorov). If the Blackhawks are looking to deal before the trade deadline, the organization being near the contract limit complicates their ability to add multiple pieces in any deal.

26 thoughts on “The Blackhawks Have Too Many Defensemen

  • March 31, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Lots of bodies, Moberg needs signed by June for next year or becomes a fa, probably won’t happen now. Creiver 6’8″ was drafted in fall as well, be awhile if he makes Nhl before we see him though, reports say not a statue though, he can play a hockey. Hard to imagine all coming back though, could be some movement in summer. Philips on Ato this year Tab, his elc won’t add a contract to this years number.

    With Dach back and Toews and Nylander healthy in the fall, throw in Reichel and Hardman, going to alot forwards competing for top 9 roles. Players in Rfd., like Barrett, Altybarmkyan, Teply and Morrison plus Johnson, Entwistle in mix with current roster for spots.

  • March 31, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Who goes?

  • March 31, 2021 at 11:07 am

    re: “Who goes?”

    Likely one in the expansion draft. Maybe one more at the deadline now/at the draft via trade.

    I would look at de Haan, Zadorov & Carlsson as the most likely names to move at some point.

  • March 31, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Agree that deHaan and Carlsson most likely names to move but I think they’ll resign Z for some sort of term

  • March 31, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    I’m gonna be optimistic and say Dehaan goes in expansi9n draft. Moberg not offered an elc, maybe minor league deal. Lindholm may or may not be given a qo, but Rfd player at best likely, Philips goes back to juniors and slides a year, same difference as needing to signing him to elc next year and not sliding development wise, not eligible for Rfd. if junior league is playing its season. That leaves Murphy, Boqvist, Mitchell, Bowey and Regula as right shots. Keith, Zadorov, Carlsson, Beaudin, Kalynuk and Krys on left with 3 or 4 on Ahl deals. Question is who goes to Rfd. Carlsson if resigned has to clear waivers if Seattle don’t pick him, so not likely to take that chance. Ditto for Zadorov, obviously Keith and Murphy aren’t, nor Boqvist either. Bowey type of guy that fits healthy scratch role but would likely clear waivers and allow 2 of Mitchell, Kalynuk and Beaudin to remain on Nhl roster and rotate in and out, maybe start giving Keith a maintenance game now and then as well. So if Bowey sent down, with injuries which ever one of Mitchell, Beaudin, Kalynik get sent down out of camp next year would likely see a fair chunk of Nhl time. Could work, if Carlsson goes to Seattle and Dehaan moved, all 3 of Beaudin, Mitchell and Kalynuk along with Boqvist, Murphy, Zadorov and Keith could be the 7 Nhl dmen if they wanted too, depth after Bowey gets thin if Regula still not ready, but guess Lindholm always a depth option to bring back.

  • March 31, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Yes Hawks have too many average defense men. Connor Murphy, Calvin de Haan and Nikita Zadorov seem to be the only ones that can be defined as pretty damn good. Size is important but the next generation of NHL defense men has been redefined. The good ones are excellent two way players. The good ones are excellent at getting shots on NET, not blocked or wide left by three and a half feet. The good ones are great with the puck in their zone, confident, able to hold the puck in corners and absorb a cross check to the back Connor Murphy comes to mind. The good ones can accelerate up and out of the zone and have a high offensive IQ. On defense the IQ really does matter, not sure how you measure it, it ain’t a Corsi rating. Roman Josi would my prototype. Size yes, but speed more so and the ability to absorb a hit, hold the puck and not make unforced turnovers in your own end. Defensive zone coverage down low might is the hardest parts of the NHL game. Mistakes get magifyied. Playing in Canada or AHL or in College is a radically different game so the transition takes a few years.

    I’d say trade for a killer defense men like Knight and Pietrangelo, even then it’s a crap shoooot. When the time is right.

    Sort of like finding great point guards in the NBA or a Center in the NHL. But then you gotta consider who he is paired with.

    not easy . . .

    go hawks

  • March 31, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    Huge vacancy in Florida now that Their top d-man is out. Do I hear Q calling Dunc’s name?

  • March 31, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    While the Hawks do have a lot of defensemen under contract currently, it doesn’t look that bad when looking at the organization as a whole. I don’t think the Hawks will sign Moberg this year and Krutil will be back in juniors next season. This offseason, Janmark, Pirri, Smith, and Soderberg are all UFA and are unlikely to be signed for next season. We have a hopefully healthy Nylander and Toews to take the spots of Janmark and Soderberg. So right off the bat, four contracts come off the books with the UFA forwards. Quennville and Wallmark are unlikely to receive qualifying offers, so that’s two more contracts that come off. I also doubt Lindholm receives a qualifying offer, so that’s 7 contracts so far that won’t be on the Hawks books next year. Assuming Carlsson, DeHaan, or Carpenter are drafted by Seattle, and that’s a total of 8 contracts that are off.

    Phillips and Slavin will take two of those 8, add another European free agent or two, and the Hawks still will have 4 contracts at their disposal. I also have no idea what the trade market will look like between today and the beginning of next season, so the Hawks could easily free up another contract or two.

    Personally, I expect DeHaan to be back next year and Zadorov to be extended. I think Carpenter or Carlsson are drafted by Seattle. So our blueline next year will look like this:


    Rockford Blueline:

    The one benefit of rebuilding is that the Hawks aren’t in the NHL UFA market, so any contracts they sign will be either their own players, or College/European free agents. Otherwise, they’ll be looking to fill roles from within. So I think the Hawks are fine contract wise. If they don’t qualify Zadorov and/or trade DeHaan, then they’ll be in even better shape. But even if both are back next year, I still think they’re fine.

  • March 31, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    Mark Gustafson
    I accept for a first round pick or 2 round pick and a prospect .
    Hehe …just woke up…

  • March 31, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Most of those guys suck

  • March 31, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    Keep every young Defensemen and be loaded. Only trade a younger one if were getting a equally good younger FW.

    If we end up with too many and have extra Oduya type players we can get two 2nds for that or something good.

    Still see us getting the #1 Defensemen/top pair D guy from ufa so that will be 5-9 m caphit which is fine use Seabs 7 for the bulk of that.

    We have to have a top pair not 10 #2-4s.

  • March 31, 2021 at 6:11 pm


    Bye Zadorov. Bye De Haan.

  • March 31, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    deHaan’s gotta go. Just look at his +/- rating (last I saw was -13), and probably should be worse if not for great goaltending when he’s on the ice. Every time he’s out there, the opponents get quality scoring chances. He’s a major defensive liability. Give the youngsters his playing time, because they need the experience. Rebuild & sort out with the promising youth, and not with deHaan’s deFiciency’s

  • March 31, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Was told this week that Stan hopes to acquire a late first round pick at the deadline.
    The Hawks will definitely be sellers. Logjam at Center and bottom 6.

  • March 31, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    Reminder…trades typically require another team to desire or want the player….not just a fan wanting a player traded. Honestly most of the season ive only caught parts of games and most often caught pre post intermission reports and jon and Troy. Im not q huge fan of bashing players but im not convinced dehaan is going anywhere.

    Honestly theres a chance dehaan would clear waivers unclaimed at this point, taking into account salary, term, injury history, flat cap. Pretty sure he blocks a lot of shots which. Not so much sayong hes a bad player just the circumstances.

    The many defenseman is one of the reasons ive long advocated (not that anyone cares) boqvist get at least some time in rockford…not because he blongs there but because as part of the development he can work with some other defensive prospects. Isnt his partner from juniors there? Would it kill him to spend a week playing practicing with rockford? I really dont think so.

    Regarding keith to florida…we know his salary anyone know how much more he will make with the taxes? Probably at least another house….might be one of those contracts once he waives it its gone for good….i havent read the fine print but contracts like that exist. If so expect it to be waived somewhere in the area of Never. Same for seabrook…though his becomes partial i belive in a couole years. In yhe games ive watched keith makes about as many mistakes as any other defe seman in the league and still looks darn good.

    Seattle…seattle is going yo take whoever they want of who is exposed. Pretty sure carllsson hasnt played enough games to be exposed. Id wager they take Zadarov at a glance, pure speculation or watch for a trade as seattle makes an offer for lankinen. Personally I like zadarov to a degree….i dont know the coaches system or watch enough to be a very accurate judge though

  • April 1, 2021 at 12:20 am

    @honest guy, Hawks aren’t trading Lankinen especially since they’ve been witness to the goalie carousal that teams have been on for the past few years as they try to secure a number one have Lankinen at $800,000 for this year and next is a true he’ll be protected. I also expect Zadorov to be qualified and protected in the expansion draft. Carlsson needs 15 games to qualify for the expansion draft and I’m sure we’ll start seeing him get into games soon. He or Carpenter are who I expect Seattle to draft.

  • April 1, 2021 at 9:43 am

    The Hawks acquired Madison Bowey and played him immediately to make him eligible for the expansion draft, which he now is. They will protect Keith, Zadorov and Murphy.
    For all of the angst on here about Zadorov, I would imagine the organization is pleased that he is a thumper. The hits on Hornqvist, the battles with Jamie Benn etc.

  • April 1, 2021 at 10:33 am

    You don’t make a player eligible for the expansion draft, anybody under Nhl contract with more than 2 years Nhl/Ahl experience is eligible. Right now defense wise Boqvist, Mitchell, Beaudin, Kalynuk, Philips and Regula are exempt because they played 2 pro years yet along with any nmc contracts exempt as well. Then teams decide who to protect, the league requires in the pool of unprotected players that one defenseman and one forward who meet certain games played are there for teams to be compliant. Defensemen who meet that for the Blackhawks are Murphy, Dehaan, Bowey who by playing a game is compliant, nothing to do with eligibility. Others like Carlsson, Krys, Lindholm are eligible for draft and can be protected too. Zadorov is eligible for draft but needs to be resigned in order to meet compliancy rules as well.

  • April 1, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Should say exempt because they “haven’t” played 2 years yet.

  • April 1, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Is Murphy going to be the one that goes (to Florida to help make up for losing Ekholm)? Coach Q knows him and trusts him to be responsible, and he should fetch a decent return.

    The Hawks are getting younger, bigger, and likely more versatile on D AND up front. Not only are they reaping the benefits of using so much draft capital on D, but they are supplementing around those draft picks. They are going to have a tremendous amount of organizational depth at Defenseman, and that means 1 of 2 things:

    Either they are planning on turning over the entire group over the next 2-3 years (likely anyway with Keith nearing 40, Seabrook done, and no one on long-term deals), OR
    They are planning to use them as pieces in trades and sweeteners to get bad contracts off the books. I don’t really believe this is the case, because that would be giving Bowman a ton more credit for pre-planning than I think he deserves.

    Honestly, I think it is mostly the first one, but they took a lot of swings at it to make sure they got enough quality defensemen to have a strong stable of young talent on the way by the time they needed them.

  • April 1, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    Craig, with Stan hoping to acquire a late 1st pick at the TDL, I’m going to infer he has something specific either in the works or with a high level of probability which leads me to think he’s thinking of a deal for more than Janmark because I doubt Janmark fetches a 1st by himself. Cap room maybe? Or maybe something like Janmark and the Hawks’ 2nd round pick for the other team’s 1st round pick?

    However it needs to play out – it would be very nice to add another 1st round pick. Select BPA with the better pick (probably the Hawks pick) and then maybe gamble a bit with the second 1st rounder – like maybe Kirby’s little brother, who at 6.03 / 205 ain’t exactly little. He’s playing pretty well since the WHL started their season – 7g/5a in 10 games as a LW power forward.

  • April 1, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Joseph. There’s very little chance they move Murphy. I’ve been told Colliton loves Murphy, his effort and his leadership. I doubt Stan undermines his beloved Coach and undermines him for draft picks.

  • April 1, 2021 at 9:43 pm


  • April 1, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Ebony. I think Janmark has made the decision easier. He has gone cold for “us” but likely with fewer sellers still has value.
    Strome’s improved play makes moving Soderberg easier as well.

  • April 2, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    Trade Lucas Carlsson to Detroit for Evgeni
    Trade strome to Minnesota for a second round pick.
    Trade janmark for a second round pick.
    Trade Soderberg for a third round pick.

    Hope Seattle takes de Hann. Ron Francis did sign him to Carolina as the gm. Even if you have to grease the wheels a bit.

    Resign Zadorov 4 years $4.0 million aav
    Let Lindholm go unqualified.
    Moberg to a Ahl only deal.
    Sign Jakub Galvas to a entry level deal.

    Hawks next year

    7th dman Bowey. If injuries occur call up Kalynuk.


    Krys/Franson (resign Ahl deal)
    Moberg (Ahl deal)

    Prospects unsigned

    Vlasic (junior ncaa)
    Demin (senior ncaa)
    Kaiser (sophomore ncaa)

    Chl prospects

    Krutil (two years to sign)
    Crevier (one year to sign)

    Not including any dman they draft this upcoming year.

  • April 2, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    What a great place to be in. Too many defensemen. Are they all NHL worthy? Probably not. BUT…they do have players that are. There’s a plethora of teams that need young defensemen. If SB plays this right, he can strengthen this team through trades and draft picks. This is THE BEST place to be in. My only concern is that they trade the wrong youngster. I’m sure that De Haan and Bowey are gone. I like them both, but…too many. Zadorov? Has he played well enough to stay? I’m betting one of those teams that need a defenseman will deal for him…especially for that playoff run. We know Beaudin is staying. I believe Kalynuk is staying and maybe Carlsson. So…who is staying?
    Right-handed: Mitchell, Boqvist, Regula, Moberg, Krutil.
    Left-handed: Beaudin, Kalynuk, Carlsson, Phillips, Krys.
    The team has assets to deal…if they choose. I mentioned in a previous post that Cole Sillinger is in the 2021 draft as is Corson Ceulemans. A center and a defenseman, respectively. This is a fantastic spot to be in for the Blackhawks. For my money, Sillinger is the one that may be in the Blackhawks wheelhouse. I am absolutely pumped about the possibilities.

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