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Chicago Blackhawks: Seventh Defenseman Battle

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The Chicago Blackhawks don’t have many roster battles still going on. The forward core is pretty much set in stone, as are the top six defenseman and goaltenders. But, a battle still going on is the battle for the seventh defenseman spot.

Earlier in the day, defenseman Philip Holm cleared waivers. I was very surprised because he was playing very well in my opinion. The 27 year old Swede was steady defensively and showcased very good puck moving abilities. I’d expect him to earn a call-up eventually.

The players still on the roster who are most likely to challenge for the seventh defenseman spot are Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom. Both defensemen have a good amount of NHL experience (Koekkoek has 107 games in the NHL and Dahlstrom has 49 games played).

Slater Koekkoek

Koekkoek, is a mobile two-way defenseman. He’s able to play on the penalty kill, but should just be relied upon on 5-on-5 play. The 25 year old also has some good puck-moving abilities.

In limited time last year, Koekkoek put up a goal and four assists in 22 games for the ‘Hawks. That stat line doesn’t really stick out, but that’s not his game. According to Natural Stat-Trick, Koekkoek, has put up a less than ideal 33.74 xGF% and a 46.91 FF% throughout the preseason.

This image displays advanced analytics like GF, xGF% and CF%. Blue is good and Red is bad.

Koekkoek, has been decent all-around, but he’s nothing too great. The former 10th overall pick will have to continue to fight for his spot.

Carl Dahlstrom

Dahlstrom, is a defensive defenseman. He’s a good penalty killer as well. The problem with him is that he provides little to no offense and is also very slow. He still has that chance of being the Chicago Blackhawks seventh defenseman.

In my line projections before training camp I had Dahlstrom just missing. But, he’s making a case for himself as he’s playing good defensively. Last year, he was on a shutdown pair with defenseman Connor Murphy. Ultimately, he was taken off the pair because of his lack of speed. The 24 year old defenseman only recorded six assists in a 38 game stint with the big club.

Advanced analytics are not where Dahlstrom excels. They aren’t everything, but they do give a gauge on the player. Natural Stat-Trick also tracked Dahlstrom’s xGF% and FF%. His xGF% is 32.24 and his FF% is 41.67 through two preseason games.

This image displays advanced analytics like GF, xGF% and CF%. Blue is good and Red is bad.

Dahlstrom, is probably on the outside looking in between him and Koekkoek, but anything could happen.

Who Makes It?

As of right now I believe that Koekkoek should make the NHL roster as the Chicago Blackhawks seventh defenseman. Anything could happen though and this is just an opinion. I could also see Adam Boqvist getting a look, but he’s more likely to get sent down to Rockford for seasoning. I’d love to also see Holm get a chance this year in the NHL. But as it stands Koekkoek is the front runner for the #7 spot.

Advanced Analytics Glossary:

FF% – Fenwick for percentage. Fenwick is an advanced analytic that measures shots at even strength. This includes shots on goal and missed shots. FF% is found by dividing Fenwick for by Fenwick for plus Fenwick against (FF/FF+FA). Anything above 50% is good.

xGF% – Expected goals for percentage. Like Fenwick, it measures unblocked shots but has different values per quality of shot or shot against. xGF% is found by dividing Expected goals for by the total Expected goals (xGF/xG). Anything above 50% is good.

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Stats From: Natural Stat Trick and Elite Prospects

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