Blackhawks

Brent Seabrook agrees to long-term extension with Blackhawks

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Brent Seabrook agrees to long-term extension with Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have talked about how much Brent Seabrook has meant to them. Now they’ve made a long-term commitment to keep him.

The Blackhawks and Seabrook agreed to an eight-year extension worth $55 million on Saturday night. Seabrook, who’s in the final year of his current contract, was happy that the deal got done now.

“It’s a huge relief,” Seabrook said after the Blackhawks’ 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. “It was something I wanted to get done before the season started. I don’t know how the Blackhawks felt, but it shows [they had] a lot of confidence in me.”

Seabrook’s deal means the Blackhawks have their top defensive duo wrapped up for quite a while. Duncan Keith’s current deal expires at the end of the 2022-23 season, one season before Seabrook’s new extension will run out.

“Obviously I’ve played with Seabs for a long time. He’s been an unbelievable teammate and a great friend,” Keith said. “I’m happy to know we’ll play together for a long time.”

[MORE: Patient Marcus Kruger finally arrives in Chicago]

It also means the Blackhawks will probably be looking at cap issues again next season. But general manager Stan Bowman is willing to figure out the numbers to keep Seabrook long term.

“You can’t just go pick up a Brent Seabrook. If you don’t have someone like that, to be the performer that he is on the ice as well as the leader he is off the ice, if you don’t have Brent, you’re looking for the exact same player. We know what he’s all about,” Bowman said. “The salary cap is a puzzle that we all have to figure out. Every team faces those challenges. But I look at it as a great situation to be in.

"The hardest thing is to find talented players that are committed to winning. And when you have them, you do everything you can and then you make it work. There’ll be new challenges every year, but there was never a hesitation that we would bring Brent back.”

Seabrook will be 39 by the end of his new deal but Bowman wasn’t concerned with where the defenseman will be at that point in his career.

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Brent Seabrook jersey]

“You maybe could say that five to 10 years ago but if you watch these guys, a lot of these guys are in better condition at 30 than they were at 21 or 22. Just the commitment they have to training and to fitness and nutrition,” Bowman said. “I have no concerns with that. I’m very impressed with our guys and they show no signs of slowing down.”

Seabrook is the latest player who the Blackhawks have locked up long term. He could have tested the free-agent waters next summer but he wanted no part of that. He wanted to stay with the Blackhawks. Now he will.

“I liked the eight years. I want to finish my career here in Chicago. We’ve had a lot of success here. There’s no place I’d rather be and that’s what I expressed through my agent. I was very pleased when that happened,” Seabrook said. “I’d like to spend my whole career here. It’s up to me now to fulfill my end of the bargain and go from there, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.