Jordan Hendry

Jordan Hendry will audition for a spot with the Minnesota Wild after accepting a training camp tryout

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Next season’s Minnesota Wild team will be a significantly different one compared to the 2010-11 version, but it remains to be seen if they’ll actually see much improvement. (This point is especially true if you’re among those who believe that Dany Heatley’s career is heading toward a steep decline.)

Perhaps the biggest area of worry used to be Minnesota’s primary strength: defense. While their offense could be improved – again, that’s a matter of debate – and they employ an expensive but above average goalie in Niklas Backstrom, their defensive corps is a question mark at best. The Wild allowed 32 shots per game last season (tied for sixth worst with the New York Islanders) and they traded away their All-Star defenseman and ice time leader Brent Burns during the off-season. If anything, their summer swaps to acquire Heatley and Devin Setoguchi mark a step or two backward defensively.

Of course, there are a few mitigating factors. The biggest change will probably be in their overall scheme, as GM Chuck Fletcher fired Todd Richards in favor of new head coach Mike Yeo. The Wild are also making baby steps in the right direction with some of their most recent moves: signing solid puck mover Mike Lundin and giving Jordan Hendry a training camp tryout today.

Neither one of those moves will make a dramatic difference – Lundin will likely slide into either the second or third defensive pairing while Hendry might not even make the team – but both players provide Minnesota with simple defensive options in case things start to get ugly. With Burns’ 25 minutes per game out of the picture, Marek Zidlicky (21:46 minutes per game) and Greg Zanon (21:33) might be asked to pick up the slack. The two very different defensemen bring some positives to the table, but they’re not exactly an ideal top pairing either. The Wild might give Nick Schultz the nod over Zanon, but that doesn’t really change the picture in a significant way.

Again, Hendry isn’t likely to do much more than provide the Wild with depth, but adding him to the mix seems like a nice low-risk move going into training camp. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about Hendry, who had a rough final season with the Chicago Blackhawks that ended with a torn ACL, but he probably deserves another shot at being a everyday NHL blueliner.

This is a case of two sides needing each other: the Wild need help on defense while Hendry needs a chance to get his career back on track. In a best case scenario, you might not even notice Hendry very often if he makes the team – that’s basically his ideal job as an economical, bottom pairing defenseman.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry out for six months with torn ACL

While the Blackhawks were acquiring Chris Campoli to help fill out their defense today, they were dealing with the harsh news that defenseman Jordan Hendry would be out for the remainder of the season and playoffs. Hendry tore the ACL in his left knee and he’ll need to get it operated on putting his recovery and rehab time at six months.

Hendry had been working as the Blackhawks fifth or sixth defenseman at times this year and often ending up paired with youngster Nick Leddy. With Hendry out and now Campoli coming in, the Hawks defense shapes up to be a bit better now. Of course, if injuries strike back again the Hawks will have to hope veteran Jassen Cullimore is in shape to play in a pinch. 6’8″ thumper John Scott will also figure into the mix to help out when needed.

The injury isn’t a back breaker for Chicago but their depth is hampered just a bit more as an injury to anyone in their top six really puts the pressure on guys they aren’t overly excited to have start for them.

Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell set to return tonight

While the Chicago Blackhawks have had a good start to their season, they’re getting some good news tonight heading into their contest against the New York Rangers. Defenseman Brian Campbell, who sprained his knee during training camp, will make his first start of the season and as you might expect, he’s fired up about playing. Chris Kuc gets the quotes from Campbell via Chicago Breaking Sports.

“I’m excited,” Campbell said after the Hawks’ morning skate. “It’s been pretty boring the last month. I’m ready to go and try and help out and get the feel for it again.”

“(My knee) feels pretty good,” Campbell added. “You’re going to have pain for a little while longer. I was comfortable with it and I had a really good skate (Saturday) in Minnesota. After that I felt pretty good. I responded well and I was working hard to get back.”

Campbell gets right back into the swing of things with his defense partner from last season, Niklas Hjalmarsson. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith remain as the top pair, meanwhile Jassen Cullimore and Jordan Hendry will be the third pair. That leaves Nick Boynton out of the lineup as a healthy scratch.

Getting Campbell back gives Chicago an offensive threat on the blue line and someone to help their power play unit out as well. Expect the Blackhawks to ride that top four set of defensemen as long as they’re all healthy. They’re the absolute best that Chicago rolls out there and while the third pairing is good for getting a break on occasion, you can’t bank on them to do any real heavy lifting out there. For Chicago, they’ll be happy to do that.