With recent season-ending injuries to Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook, the Chicago Blackhawks and head coach Jeremy Colliton have seen the team’s defense struggle even more. The team is relatively happy with their top four of Duncan Keith, Erik Gustafsson, Connor Murphy and Adam Boqvist, but the team is having issues with their third pairing in which the trio of Olli Maatta, Dennis Gilbert and Slater Koekkoek have struggled.
Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that a league source reports the Blackhawks have been looking for help on defense since early in the season, but have not been able to acquire a blueliner due to team’s demands for prospects that Chicago is unwilling to part with. That leaves the Blackhawks in a tough place. The team does have some cap room and take back a bigger contract, but with little cap space expected next season, the team is unlikely to be able to pick up anything more than a rental player.
- NHL.com’s Chris Kuc reports that Chicago Blackhawks winger Drake Caggiula said he hopes to return sometime next week, but it won’t be on Sunday against Detroit. Caggiula has been out since mid-November with a concussion and could add more depth to the team’s forward lines on his return. The 25-year-old Caggiula has appeared in just 15 games so far this season with three goals and four points.
- Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun reports that Winnipeg Jets defenseman Sami Niku could be ’freed’ soon. The 23-year-old was expected to play a much bigger role this year with a heavily depleted blueline. However, injuries and a car accident back during training camp, have prevented Niku from making much of an impact this season. He’s appeared in just one NHL game so far this year and has only played 18 with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. With a recent fan lobbying to #FreeSami, head coach Paul Maurice said that chance could be coming soon. “We’re going to see him sooner rather than later, unless we get on some kind of run,” said Maurice. “We still haven’t made our lineup … but we’re going to want to get him up to speed and get him in pretty quick.”