Blackhawks

Brent Seabrook a steady presence for Blackhawks once again

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Brent Seabrook a steady presence for Blackhawks once again

When the Blackhawks named Brent Seabrook alternate captain after Patrick Sharp was traded to Dallas, it was a no-brainer.

Yes, the Blackhawks have plenty of veterans who have shown leadership throughout these years. But Seabrook has displayed it often — his penalty-box pep talk with Jonathan Toews in the 2013 postseason is still a memorable moment — and he wore that “A” whenever another alternate captain was missing.

And Seabrook taking the lead, be it on or off the ice, has continued this season.

The Blackhawks have gone through changes and weathered injuries to defensemen. Throughout it all, Seabrook’s been a steady, reliable player for the Blackhawks. He picked up the slack in Duncan Keith’s absence and is third overall on the team in points with 19 (five goals, 14 assists). There’s been the random gaffe, certainly; nobody’s perfect. But overall, Seabrook’s game has been strong.

“I think it’s gone well,” Seabrook said of his season thus far. “I try to do what I can and help out when I can. Obviously when Dunc was out there was a little more emphasis on the overall game, trying to produce offense and be real good defensively. To be honest, it’s really how I’ve always tried to play. Nothing’s really changed. With Dunc being out, maybe more opportunity to play on that power play and get some good looks, things like that.”

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Seabrook has also been a good influence on defensive partner Trevor van Riemsdyk.

“He’s putting up quite a few points this year, but that doesn’t change how he plays defensively,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s solid, shutting down plays, taking on guys 1-on-1, whatever it may be.”

There have been times in the past where Seabrook looked hesitant to shoot. He hasn’t looked like that this year. Perhaps in Keith’s absence, he was determined to shoot more, and obviously it’s led to good things. Coach Joel Quenneville joked that Seabrook would have a lot more points if not for the defenseman breaking so many sticks this year. But he’s nevertheless taking advantage of that heavy shot he possesses.

“He’s getting his shot through and thinking one-timers,” Quenneville said. “He’s got that dimension to his shot where it can beat a goalie with how hard he shoots it and he’s not afraid to use it, which is what we’re looking for.”

Trevor Daley said Seabrook’s patience benefits him.

“He’s always in the right spot and makes the right plays,” Daley said. “He’s not the most flashy guy, but he has an unbelievable shot and he knows how to get it off. That’s what all (defensemen) try to do, get shots off, and he’s probably one of the best I’ve seen at it.”

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The Blackhawks made it clear they wanted Seabrook here for the long haul in September, when they signed him to an eight-year extension. For Seabrook, it was a relief to get the deal done when they did; Seabrook’s last contract, a five-year extension, wasn’t agreed upon until February of 2011.

“At the end of the summer was, I’m not going to say (it was) stressful, but I was thinking about that a lot,” Seabrook said. “It’s a huge honor to have the faith from those guys that I can do the job, and I’m looking forward to continuing to get better. It’s something that’s nice; I don’t have to worry about it. I can go out and play my game and know that I’m going to be here for the next eight or nine years if I do my job.”

Seabrook’s done his job well throughout his Blackhawks career. He has three Stanley Cups and a letter on his jersey to prove it. Despite roster changes or whether the team is in sickness or health, Seabrook’s been the steady presence the Blackhawks have needed.

“He was a big part of those quality minutes or important shifts without Duncs and leadership on the back end; stability as well with young kids. He got us through a tough spot,” Quenneville said. “He’s given us predictable minutes, defensively, offensively. He’s really helping our power play and shooting the puck as well as we’ve ever seen him.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."