Blackhawks mailbag: What could the defense look like in 2019-20?

Charlie Roumeliotis
NBC Sports Chicago
Do the Blackhawks have the cap room to sign an attractive defenseman this summer? What could the blue line look like in 2019-20? Charlie Roumeliotis answers all that and more in our latest Blackhawks mailbag.
Do the Blackhawks have the cap room to sign an attractive defenseman this summer? What could the blue line look like in 2019-20? Charlie Roumeliotis answers all that and more in our latest Blackhawks mailbag.

Blackhawks mailbag: What could the defense look like in 2019-20? originally appeared on

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition.  

This is supposed to be a solid group of goalies in this draft, do the Hawks draft another goalie this year?

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Because of how long it takes for goaltenders to develop, the Blackhawks are at a point where they have to start preparing for life without Corey Crawford, even if he re-signs with the team after next season. Crawford will be 35 when his contract expires next summer, and you must have an idea of who his replacement is going to be ahead of time.

Collin Delia, who signed a three-year extension, took a big step this past season and is expected to be the backup for the 2019-20 campaign. Kevin Lankinen split time in Rockford but had a breakout performance at the 2019 IIHF World Championship by leading Finland to a gold medal and posting a .942 save percentage. Alexis Gravel, who was drafted in the sixth round (No. 162 overall) in 2018, is still only 19.

We see how important it is in today's NHL to have two reliable goaltenders, so adding depth in that department is never a bad thing. It's certainly possible the Blackhawks look at the goalie market in this year's draft to see if they can find a hidden gem. You can never have enough of them.

Do all the draftees naming Hawks as favorite players have any sort of actual impact on the drafting process?

In the big picture, no. But history indicates it doesn't hurt because the Blackhawks like when there's that added element of playing for pride and the crest on the front of the sweater.

Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz are among the most notable recent draftees by the Blackhawks who were Chicago-area natives (Hartman, Hinostroza) and/or Blackhawks fans (Schmaltz). Alex Turcotte, among other prospects who have made it known that the Blackhawks were their favorite team growing up, would fall into this category as an Island Lake native and someone who grew up rooting for the Blackhawks, even admitting he was at the 2010 championship parade.

Do the Blackhawks really have the roster space to go out and get a defenseman during free agency? Already have Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, Gustafsson, Jokiharju, Koekkoek, Dahlstrom, likely Forsling, and possibly Boqvist. Maybe Byram as well.

What do you expect the blue line to look like next season, draft, trades and current prospects in mind?

Combining these two questions. It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks rolling back the same defensive group. There will be changes on the back end. What that may look like is the interesting question because six defensemen (Carl Dahlstrom, Erik Gustafsson, Duncan Keith, Slater Koekkoek, Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook) are all under contract. And that doesn't include Henri Jokiharju, who could compete for a full-time roster spot next season.

The unrestricted free agent market on defense consists of Jake Gardiner, Erik Karlsson and Tyler Myers at the top, all three of whom are looking for a big payday and term. The Blackhawks' defensive group is simply too crowded right now, and not necessarily in a good way. They're loaded with depth defensemen but not enough impact-type players.

That being said, the Blackhawks are expected to go after another depth defenseman this summer to help shore up their defensive game and penalty kill. If they want to add a top-four blue liner, it might be more likely that it would come in the form of a trade. 

Hey Charlie!

1) Kevin Lankinen - fluke or for real?

2) With the addition of these European players, what kind of message does that send to those knocking on the door in Rockford? Is it healthy competition or a sign Hawks are moving on from those in Rockford?


1) Lankinen's performance at the Worlds was no fluke. He was terrific and played against elite competition. But because that tournament is played on a larger ice surface, the angles are a little different so that should be noted.

2) I asked Jeremy Colliton this question on the latest Hawks Talk Podcast and here was his response: "That gets back to the discussion about depth: We need more. We need more competition throughout the lineup, not just for a place on the roster but for a place every night. And then the role within that, whether that's special teams or matchup line or certain combos, the more options we have obviously the stronger our team will be. But we're going to have injuries. I think this year we were relatively healthy. It will probably be naive to think that we'll be as healthy next year. We need guys who can play ... you gotta be ready to go 25, 26, 27 guys deep in your organization to win, so we need to keep working on that."

Do the Blackhawks go back to drafting 12th in the 2nd round and onwards, or do they continue to pick 3rd each round?

Who do you think can be of value in the second round for the Blackhawks?

Thank you for bringing up this question. I made a mistake on a recent episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast by saying the Blackhawks move up nine spots in every round, but that's not the case with lottery teams. Rounds 2 and on are sorted by where you finished in the standings.

As far as who could be an attractive player in the second round for the Blackhawks, I won't pretend to be a draft guru and throw out names I don't know much about. We're hoping to get one or two more experts on the podcast before the NHL Draft on June 21-22 and perhaps dive into second round options. Stay tuned.

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