Chicago Blackhawks

Reunited and it feels so good for Seabrook, Keith

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Reunited and it feels so good for Seabrook, Keith

On a couple of different occasions this year, longtime partners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been split up by Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.

The breakup was more to spread the wealth than it was for anything that was happening on the ice. With the impressive addition of Johnny Oduya at the trade deadline, the original plan from the coach was to pair the new guy with Seabrook. It looked great on paper until they were on the ice for all three first period goals by the Toronto Maple Leafs last Wednesday.

The partnership lasted all of 20 minutes, and it doesn't mean they won't be paired together again. But what it did do was force the coaching staff to reconfigure on the fly, and what's happened since then is three straight victories, allowing only three goals against in the last eight periods.

Which brings us back to the happy reunion of Keith and Seabrook.

There's a comfort level that exists between Keith and Seabrook. They are best friends off the ice, roommates on the road and one of the most formidable shutdown duos in the entire NHL on the ice.

They've basically been paired together since then-coach Trent Yawney put them together as rookies almost seven years ago. There's a comfort level and predictability you attain when playing with a partner for that long. A lot of their communication on the ice goes unsaid, they just know where the other guy will be at any time.

It's been been fun to watch these two defensemen grow the last seven years, and with the long-term contracts they both signed last year, Blackhawk fans will have the pleasure of watching these two for a long time to come.

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.