— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 31, 2021
Connor Murphy Extended By Blackhawks
Murphy is an extremely important piece to the Blackhawks’ defensive success. Out of defensemen, he only played fewer minutes per game than Duncan Keith. With Keith now an Oiler, Murphy will have some serious shoes to fill in the shutdown role. Luckily for the Blackhawks, he is just that type of defender. He led the 2020-21 team in blocked shots with 123 (32 more than Keith, the next highest). While his advanced numbers don’t look great, it’s important to remember the type of season the Blackhawks had as a whole. The most important statistic to look at is his defensive zone start percentage. Nearly 70% of all his faceoffs were in the defensive zone. Coach Jeremy Colliton obviously trusts him to take care of the puck and get it out of harm’s way.
Moving Forward For the Blackhawks
Having Connor Murphy extended is a fantastic offseason move made by Stan Bowman. The top pairing will likely be made up of Murphy and Seth Jones, the recently acquired defenseman from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jones is much more offensively minded, so those two will pair together nicely. Calvin de Haan and Jake McCabe will likely take up the second pairing role. These two are solid defensemen in their own right and will slot in nicely behind the Jones – Murphy pairing. The last pairing is anyone’s guess. Ian Mitchell and Wyatt Kalynuk are the two that come to mind immediately. However, Riley Stillman is a growing player that could steal some ice time for a few games. The overarching theme for this Blackhawks blue line is they are young and relatively inexperienced, so there will be some growing pains.