We gave our grades for the Chicago Blackhawks' goaltenders a few days ago, now it is time to give grades to the defensemen. The team has had five consistent defensemen, with three others rotating to fill the sixth spot. We will give a grade to each of the defensemen and explain the case behind it.
Let's take a look at the eight defensemen for the Chicago Blackhawks:
Duncan Keith: 3 G, 45 A, 48 P, +19
Keith ranks second among defensemen with 48 points and is tied for 28th in the NHL. His 45 assists rank tied for third in the league. Keith is definitely one of the favorites to win the Norris Trophy this season. He has been the most consistent blue liner for the Blackhawks and continues to be a force on both ends of the ice. Keith's ability to get his teammates involved on the offensive end, along with stopping opponents on defense, is a huge asset to the Blackhawks and his talent cannot be replaced.
Brent Seabrook: 6 G, 28 A, 34 P, +24
Seabrook has also had a solid year for the Blackhawks. He is within striking distance of surpassing his career high in goals (9), assists (39) and points (48). Seabrook is one of the best leaders in the NHL despite not having a letter on his jersey. Seabrook is paired with Keith and together they form arguably the best defenseman duo in the NHL.
Niklas Hjalmarsson: 4 G, 19 A, 23 P, +13
Hjalmarsson is known as a lock-down defender, but he has provided some nice offense this season as he has already surpassed his career highs in goals, assists and points. Hjalmarsson has done a nice job defending the net and holding his ground at the line. At 26 years old he keeps on improving and in a few years he could develop into one of the better defensemen in the league. He still needs to work on becoming a bit more consistent as he has had a few too many turnovers this season, but he has done a nice job thus far.
Johnny Oduya: 3 G, 10 A, 13 P, +7
Oduya doesn't stuff the stat sheet, but that isn't something he is expected to do. He is paired with Hjalmarsson to form one of the best lockdown defense duos in the league. The two of them often go up against the best line from the opposing team night in and night out. Oduya has done a good job protecting the net, but he has had his struggles on occasion.
Nick Leddy: 6 G, 17 A, 23 P, +13
After being benched for the majority of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, Leddy has responded in a big way. The 22 year old is one of the fastest defensemen in the league and has shown that this year. His ability to penetrate through the defense and join the rush has been very beneficial to the Blackhawks this season. He has already tied his career high in goals and is on his way to surpassing his career high in points (37). Leddy continues to improve and the future looks bright for him.
Michal Rozsival: 1 G, 5 A, 6 P, 0 +/- rating (33 games)
Rozsival has rotated in the sixth defenseman spot for the majority of the season. The 35 year old has done a decent job providing a veteran presence next to Leddy. He hasn't been spectacular, but he has done a respectable job considering he is the sixth defenseman and is near retirement.
Sheldon Brookbank: 1 G, 3 A, 4 P, +4 (32 games)
Brookbank has played defense, as well as filled in at forward throughout the season. He rarely records a point, but has done a decent job filling in wherever role Coach Joel Quenneville puts him in. Brookbank is a bigger body who can be a bit more physical than Rozsival, but he despite being 33 years old, he doesn't have the same veteran "know-how".
Michael Kostka: 2 G, 1 A, 3 P, +3 (9 games)
Kostka suffered a foot injury earlier in the season that forced him to miss a lot of time. He has done a nice job during the nine games he has played, but nothing that gets you too excited. Despite playing the least amount of games out of all the defensemen, he does have more goals than two of them. Kostka's playing time will probably be limited the rest of the season unless there is an injury or trade.
These are our grades for the defensemen thus far. Grades for the forwards will be coming shortly.
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