CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.
Sami Lepisto, 27, only played in 26 games and averaged just 10 minutes and 34 seconds per contest. He scored one goal, had two assists and finished plus-3. He delivered 24 hits and blocked nine shots. Lepisto played in three of the six playoff games vs. Phoenix, failing to record a single point and finishing minus-3.
Boden's take: The day the Blackhawks Convention opened last summer, the team severed its relationship with free agent Chris Campoli and signed Sami Lepisto. The thinking was the Hawks needed more puck-movement from the blueline with the departure of Brian Campbell. That never panned out. Lepisto was stuck in the sixth-defenseman numbers game, trying to rotate in playing time with Sean O'Donnell, Dylan Olsen, John Scott and later by the acquisition of Johnny Oduya rearranging the pecking order. Then he missed 13 of the last 14 regular season games with a leg injury.
Myers' take: The Blackhawks signed Lepisto right as they opened their convention last summer, and it was a sign of two things: No. 1, Campoli wasnt coming back and No. 2, the Blackhawks wanted more depth at defenseman. But whether he didnt fit into the system or coach Joel Quenneville preferred to play others, Lepisto didnt make much of an impact. He played in just 26 games; and just as he was finding a niche in the lineup in early March he suffered a leg injury against the St. Louis Blues. Lepisto did come back from that, but played in just four more games.
Chris: Lepisto will only be 28 on Oct. 17 and has played just three full seasons in the NHL, so you'd think he'd be entering his prime. He probably thinks that way too, and will try to find a new home on the UFA market where he can at least be in the lineup every night. He was a good soldier and didn't rock the boat with all the healthy scratches, but this doesn't seem to be the place where he'll get his opportunity.
Tracey: Lepisto signed a one-year deal when he came here, and itll be a surprise if hes back here. The Blackhawks will probably look elsewhere for defensive depth this coming season.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Lepisto above.
Previously: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador, Sean O'Donnell, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo, Andrew Brunette, Marcus Kruger, Brendan Morrison, Jonathan Toews
Up next: Jamal Mayers