CHICAGO – This offseason, it’s been the Blackhawks’ blue line that’s gotten a hefty makeover as the 2021-2022 season approaches.
Veteran Duncan Keith, one of the foundations of a three-time Stanley Cup champion in the 2010s, was traded away to the Oilers for young defenseman Caleb Jones. His brother Seth, a four-time All-Star, was acquired from the Blue Jackets with Adam Boqvist heading to Columbus as part of that deal.
Brent Seabrook was already out before the season even ended after he retired due to recent injuries, though his contract was traded to the Lightning for center Tyler Johnson.
These moves will shake up Jeremy Colliton’s defensive pairings for the upcoming season, but at least one player will remain to provide some continuity from one year to the next.
The Blackhawks signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a four-year contract extension with a $4.4 million cap hit, keeping him with the team through 2025-2026. He had one more year left on an initial six-year deal that he signed with the Coyotes that had a $3.85 million cap hit.
“When we acquired Connor in the summer of 2017, we had visions of him growing as both a player and leader in our organization for many years,” said President of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman in a release from the team. “He has transformed into a defenseman capable of matching up with the opponent’s best players and someone we trust to help us preserve a lead in the final minutes.
“Connor’s voice carries weight in our locker room as a veteran presence and we’re thrilled that his development and leadership will continue as a Blackhawk.”
Acquired in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade back in June of 2017, Murphy has played 236 games with the Blackhawks over the last four seasons, scoring 15 goals and 46 assists with a plus/minus of +12 in that time.
This past season, the defenseman played in 50 games with three goals and 12 assists with a plus/minus of +1. Murphy’s 22:09 average of ice time in the 2021 campaign is the most of his eight-year career.