The road to repeat for the Chicago Blackhawks was already set to be a difficult one given all the roster turnover during the off-season. Now the team will be dealing with the loss of key defenseman Brian Campbell for the next four to five weeks with a knee sprain will make at least the start of the season that much more difficult. The question for Chicago now becomes: Who will take over for Campbell while he’s out. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago digs in to figure things out.
In either a criticism of the Hawks’ depth (after their top four) at that position, or a nod to his talents, 19-year-old Nick Leddy might be the best candidate for the job. He’s a puck-moving guy that should feel comfortable with the steady Niklas Hjalmarsson, or if coach Joel Quenneville elects, Brent Seabrook or Duncan Keith.
It was always in Leddy’s best interests to play with a top-four guy, or go to the minors and get the full-scale learning experience. Now, there’s less of a choice in that decision. Nothing says he’ll finish the game the way he starts it but the opportunity is there for his taking.
Leddy was obtained from the Minnesota Wild last year in the Cam Barker trade. Just last season, Leddy was starting on defense for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NCAA. Now he’s poised to start the year with the Chicago Blackhawks who will be looking to defend the Stanley Cup. Not a bad upgrade in life, that’s for sure.
The Blackhawks will just have to hope that the 19 year-old Leddy is ready for the spotlight, otherwise it’ll be Jordan Hendry’s time to shine in Chicago. Hendry played through most of the playoffs for Chicago last year but did lose his starting job to Nick Boynton during the Stanley Cup finals. With the lack of depth in the Blackhawks system, veteran Jassen Cullimore also figures to start the season with the Blackhawks in a support role.
It’s not an ideal starting point for the team, but the Blackhawks knew they might have to deal with these issues this season given what they had to do to get under the cap. How this affects their run for another Stanley Cup will make for captivating theater in Chicago.
(Photo: Claus Andersen – Getty Images)