Whether it was due to the impending NHL lockout or the fact that Stan Bowman has a tendency to be completely delusional about what he actually has on his roster, the Chicago Blackhawks did very little to improve their roster this summer. Prior to the middle of September, their lone acquisition for the offseason was defenseman Sheldon Brookbank.
The limited supply of transactions led to an over-analysis of the two-year deal he signed. Many thought Brookbank was Bowman’s answer to problems on the blue line. Though I wouldn’t put it past Bowman to try and put lipstick on a pig with a move like that, I highly doubt that’s what he was doing here.
Last season was the first time in his career that Brookbank appeared in more than 66 games. He played in 80 total for the Anaheim Ducks last season, a number that I doubt he could approach with the Hawks this season, especially since a lockout would prevent that, anyway.
There’s no secret as to what Brookbank brings to the table. You know what you’re getting. He’s a big body on the blue line, he’s physical, and he kills penalties. He’s like a smaller, more skilled John Scott, if you want a simple comparison, or a reason to not get excited at all about the addition. Like Scott, though, Brookbank will likely be familiarizing himself with the spread in the press box for a good chunk of the year.
Not including Dylan Olsen, the Blackhawks have eight d-men fighting for six spots. At least one will be traded, and when all is said and done, I expect Brookbank to serve as a seventh defenseman and see action mainly in specific matchups, or because of injury.
All things considered, the signing of Sheldon Brookbank wasn’t a flashy one, but it was necessary. He won’t have a big impact, but adds some needed depth to the blue line. As long as he isn’t forced into too big of a role, this is a fine addition for the Blackhawks.