The 2023-2024 season looks bright for Chicago with the amount of changes we’ve seen since drafting forwards Connor Bedard and Oliver Moore. The Blackhawks wasted no time finding veteran presence in forwards Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall, and Corey Perry to help their offensive prospects learn leadership skills. With the depth added to their lines, what are the Blackhawks going to change about their defensive pairings?
The Blackhawks have all of their current defensemen and prospects listed on the NHL website roster. Assuming players like Bedard and forward Lukas Reichel play the first game of the season in Pittsburgh, we might also see defensive prospects get a chance to play in the show.
Defenseman Alex Vlasic made one assist in six games with Chicago and 19 points (2G, 17A) in 56 games with Rockford last season. He’s made himself one of the top options the Blackhawks have to keep on the roster. Vlasic also has the size needed to make room on the ice for the smaller forward on the team.
Another defenseman we might see more of this season is Isaak Phillips, who earned five points (1G, 4A) in 16 games for the Blackhawks and 23 points (6G, 17A) in 51 games for the IceHogs. Like Vlasic, he’d also be able to throw and take hits for players like Bedard and Reichel.
In terms of veteran presence for defensemen, the Blackhawks seem to expect Seth Jones to break out as a leader. Given they’ve only signed offensive players in free agency, Chicago might move forward with their young talent on their blue line. As the preseason comes closer, we’ll see which players make an impression.