Being a former Norris Trophy winner, Duncan Keith gets the bulk of the publicity on the blue line for the Chicago Blackhawks. But two years after staking his claim as the top defenseman in the National Hockey League, Keith may not even be the best d-man on his own team.
The game of Brent Seabrook has come a long way in his time with the Blackhawks. Though he’s done it quietly, you could easily make the argument that Seabrook has reached an elite level. The fact that he hasn’t earned that label so widely yet makes him extremely underrated.
Seabrook isn’t the type of guy in the blue line that is going to put up points that reach the high 40s, but he’s certainly capable of it. He did it in 2010-11 when he posted 48 points, including 20 points on the power play.
Unlike Keith, who seems to have every other shot blocked or miss the net by a number of feet, Seabrook actually possesses a big shot and he uses it, which is something these blue liners as a whole don’t do nearly as much as they should. He had over 150 shots last season.
But of course, you can’t talk about Seabrook without mentioning the physical play. As far as stay-at-home defensemen go, Seabrook is one of the best. He lays the lumber on defense, reaching the 200 hit mark in two of the last three seasons and 198 in the season he didn’t reach it. He also throws his body in front of the puck, with 165 blocked shots in ’11-’12.
Though Duncan Keith still holds the label as the no. 1 defenseman for the Blackhawks and sees nearly 30 minutes a game on a regular basis, Seabrook has started to chew into those crucial minutes pretty heavily and actually logged more ice time than Keith on a few occasions last year.
As shaky as this Chicago blue line has been the past few seasons, Brent Seabrook represents a calm when he’s out on the ice. He’s a steady, physical presence with more upside to his offensive game than people realize. With some bigger point totals, this is a guy who could very well be a Norris candidate on his own in the future. But first he’ll have to be recognized as the best defenseman on this club.