The start of free agency brought back a familiar face to the Chicago Blackhawks, Brian Campbell. Campbell, 37, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship team, returned on a 1-year, $2.25mil contract. The biggest hole in the Blackhawks lineup last year was their defense. Case in point, David Rundblad, who played in 9 games, then spent the rest of the year in Europe, played 10 minutes in a crucial Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues. That people, is a glaring hole.
Remember when the question came about as to who would replace Johnny Oduya? Well, it took a year, but the question has been answered. Here are some comparable stats between Campbell and the rest of the top Blackhawk defensemen last year.
So what does this mean for the Blackhawks? It means, you have a very solid #4 defenseman who can play a lot of minutes, can handle the puck, has a great +/-, and is healthy. He is already familiar with Joel Quenneville's system, which seems to puzzle newcomers when they first arrive. Not to mention the 17 years of experience and leadership he brings. Don't let his 37 year old body fool you. Even he says he isn't done yet and is willing to do what is needed for the team. "I have a lot left in the tank. There are no egos here for me. It's doing whats best to win. I know how old I am but I definitely don't feel that old. I led the Panthers in minutes last season bit I'm definitely fine with less minutes as well. Whatever they want I'm more than happy to contribute."
This move also allows Trevor van Riemsdyk to be a solid #5 defenseman as he continues to learn his role. The #6 role can be rotated between numerous players including Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and Michal Rozsival. In the mix, is newly signed Michal Kempny. Kempney, who with a year served in the KHL, is also expected to have an immediate role and contribute next year.
Holes remain at the forward level, but the biggest hole for the Blackhawks has been addressed. With a little over $3 million remaining in cap space, Bowman may be able to add a role player, but it will be up to the young talents to fill in the holes.
LET'S GO HAWKS!!!