Keith had another outstanding season, leading all defensemen with 55 assists. While only registering six goals, Keith led this team as an assistant captain should and is deservedly nominated for the Norris Trophy. Seabrook also had another great season. After only playing in 42 games in 2012, he played in all 82 games during the regular season.
Keith and Seabrook are here to stay in Chicago, and they will continue to lead this core unit of defense for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks’ second defensive unit, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, was another bright spot. Hjalmarsson led the Hawks again in blocked shots with 157 total. Oduya had 38 points and was a stud defensively. These two defensemen really gelled this past season and really helped the Hawks in crucial defensive plays in the postseason.
Another name that shined this season is Nick Leddy. Leddy was an offensive force as he was the team’s second-most offensive defenseman. Expect him to continue that trend and potentially move up to the second line with Hjalmarsson next season.
When Seabrook was suspended in the first round of the playoffs for his hit on David Backes, one defenseman really stepped up to fill his spot. Sheldon Brookbank played a fantastic first round against the St. Louis Blues. He was used as the bridge that got them through the Seabrook suspension. While Brookbank did a great job, his contract is expiring and I think his time in Chicago may be up.
With that being said, a name that is available in free agency is Anton Stralman. Stralman is a free agent from the New York Rangers. Registering 13 points in 81 games in not an astounding number, but with this Blackhawks team, he could be improve those numbers tremendously.