The Blackhawks were seeking additional help on the blue line going into free agency and added Brandon Manning into the fold on a two-year deal worth $2.25 million per year, according to TSN's Frank Seravelli, to do just that.
Manning had a career year with the Philadelphia Flyers last season, racking up seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points in 65 games while averaging 17:57 of ice time. But he's more of a solid bottom pairing defenseman than a top-four, which the Blackhawks are in need of.
"I think we were trying to improve in an area that we were a little bit lacking," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "Brandon has a bit of a different style than all of our defensemen, really. He's got some physicality to his game. He's sort of just coming into his own. He's 28 years old, but his last season was his best year.
"He's one of those — I guess you could call him a little bit of a later bloomer. He didn't make the NHL until he was in his mid 20s, but he's really playing some good hockey."
Bringing in Manning adds some competition to the mix and a veteran presence on the back end for the Blackhawks despite the desire to perhaps get more of a high-end player on the first day of signings.
At the same time, the Blackhawks also lacked defenders that are hard to play against and Manning checks that box — even if it wasn't the biggest one.
"This is my first time going through something like this," Manning said. "Playing the last three years in Philly, weighing options, the interest Chicago showed in me and the way they value the way I play, that became a huge factor. I can be more of a stay-at-home D-man. I can also play that physical game they’re looking for. When you look at depth, you look at other guys and the shot. It came down to those guys convincing me I could have an opportunity with a good group and a good team."