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.”

2019 NHL Draft Profile: D Bowen Byram

2019 NHL Draft Profile: D Bowen Byram

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Bowen Byram

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"He's had an outstanding year. Second half of the year he's really been outstanding. He really kind of drew a lot of attention to himself. Well-deserved. He's a dynamic player and he affects the outcome of a game."

Byram describes his own game:

On Duncan Keith comparisons: "I would say that’s pretty accurate. He’s a really energetic guy, good on both sides of the puck, kills penalties, runs the power play. That’s kind of how I’d describe myself, for sure. That’s definitely a fair comparison."

NHL player comparable: Duncan Keith

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks have used their last three first-round picks on defensemen, but positional needs aren't a priority when you're drafting this high — although, in the grand scheme of things, it's a pressing need despite the overflow of defensemen in the pipeline. TSN's Craig Button has said multiple times on the Hawks Talk Podcast that Byram is a future No. 1 defenseman in the NHL, and he would immediately become the top prospect in the organization.

Byram, known for his swagger and two-way game, has drawn comparisons to Drew Doughty and Keith, both of whom have won a Norris Trophy — Keith has two. More importantly, Doughty and Keith also have their names on the Stanley Cup multiple times and were both driving forces during those title runs. These are the types of defensemen you win championships with.

Byram set records in the Western Hockey League as a 17-year-old, and he could probably step into the pros immediately. But that's asking a lot for a defenseman, so he'd be more likely to become an everyday NHL player starting in 2020-21.

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2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Trevor Zegras

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Trevor Zegras

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Trevor Zegras

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 169 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"Trevor is a high skilled centerman, very good skater, very, very creative, comfortable and creative with the puck."

Zegras describes his own game:

On his creativity: "I think growing up, watching a bunch of guys in the NHL like Patrick Kane mess around the ice, just something I’ve always done as a little kid. Maybe I rolled into the driveway and work on fun passes. It’s what I’m really good at."

NHL player comparable: Patrick Kane

Fit for Blackhawks:

Talk to any player on USA Hockey's National Team Development Program and they'll say Zegras was the most offensively gifted player of the group, which is saying a lot when you consider some of the names he's up against (Matthew Boldy, Cole Caufield, Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, to name a few).

At the NHL scouting combine, Zegras mentioned Kane several times as somebody he tries modeling his game after. The vision, the passing, the skating, the playmaking ability, the hockey IQ. He has it all offensively, and also doesn't get enough credit for his two-way game.

Zegras is somebody that has quickly been rising on draft boards, and it's because he has the potential to be a 90-point player in the NHL as a center. His name has been discussed by the Blackhawks at No. 3 and he's certainly a tempting option. Pair Zegras with Kane for the next decade and it's scary to think about the numbers the two could put up together.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.