The Chicago Blackhawks‘ title defense begins in less than 24 hours, although not joining the team will be young defenseman Ryan Stanton, who has seen his only NHL game so far come with the Blackhawks last season. Placed on waivers and quickly claimed by the Vancouver Canucks, it was sad to see Stanton go so soon to the start of the regular season, as the prospect was able to be a part of the Blackhawks’ championship celebration.
Michael Kostka was a free agent last season and was let go due to his offensive style, something that did not coincide with Toronto’s traditional philosophy. However, in only 35 games, Kostka has eight total points and is waiting on his first NHL goal. Three years his senior, Kostka beat out Stanton for the expanded eighth defense position in camp despite suffering an injury in the preseason.
With his ceiling apparently reached and minimal roster space available, the decision to cut ties with Stanton became an easy one. Far more of a traditional defenseman, the three-year AHL veteran will likely find the same fate in Vancouver that he did in Chicago — stuck in the AHL and on the cusp of the NHL. Unless he can beat out Andrew Alberts, Stanton will unfortunately be relegated to a healthy scratch role.
With regards to Kostka, the ‘Hawks have found themselves a capable two-way defenseman, and with a more consistent eight-man defensive rotation, the team can hopefully put less minutes on players such as Duncan Keith.
Coach Joel Quenneville clearly has an incredible amount of confidence in Kostka, and he continues to emphasize the Blackhawks’ style of play. With defenseman such as Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy aggressively contributing constantly and wreaking havoc against traditional matchups, Kostka should fit right in.
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