Between now and training camp we'll break down the Hawks roster. Finishing off our look at the defense, here are three veterans who will battle with each other as well as Hawk prospects for the final two spots on the ice:
Jordan Hendry, Defenseman
Experience: He's played in 92 games in the NHL over the last three seasons, all with the Blackhawks.
Contract Status: Signed a one-year deal this offseason paying him $600,000. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Jesse's take: This season could provide a big opportunity for Hendry. Unless a rookie prospect beats him out, he should be a mainstay as the 5th or 6th defenseman on the team. He has the wheels and puck handling ability to fit in nicely with the Hawks' style, but his decision making has to be better. As good as Niklas Hjalmarsson's instincts are at a younger age, Hendry has work to do in that part of the game. Sometimes it's holding onto the puck too long, sometimes it's getting caught up ice at the wrong time, but the foundation for growth is there. He's also a guy who can play some fourth-line minutes at wing if needed. Another candidate for some penalty killing time, he'll need to show he can make the right decision at the right time with the puck. If he plays a full season, a 5-goal, 15-assist year is not out of the question, but he is a candidate to get benched if early game decisions are poor.
Nick Boynton, Defenseman
Experience: Entering his 9th season in the league. Was acquired mid-year from Anaheim.
Contract Status: Signed a one year, $500,000 deal this offseason. He'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Jesse's take: His career seems to be slowly winding down, but a surprise start in the final three games of the Stanley Cup finals may have revived it. That might be a little dramatic, but he certainly held his own entering a pressure situation after not playing in the postseason up to that point. A former first-round pick, he's a stay-at-home guy these days, and what he lacks in speed he can make up for in experience. And then there was that beating he took from the fists of his former teammate James Wisniewski at the end of his first game as a Hawk. He was retaliating for the cheap shot Wisniewski put on Brent Seabrook. It showed some serious heart to his game, especially considering his rookie status with his new team. Boynton is no sure thing to make the Hawks or play in many games, but he is an insurance policy on the back end. There is also nothing to say, when it's all said and done, that he and Hendry aren't the final defensive pairing.
John Scott, Defenseman
Experience: He's played 71 games over two seasons with the Minnesota Wild. Entering his first year with the Hawks.
Contract status: Signed a two-year deal this offseason that pays him $512,500 per year.
Jesse's take: The only new defenseman on the team, he brings one major thing to the party: size. Listed at 6-8, 258 pounds, Scott is a heavy hitter and heavyweight fighter. He might be destined to be a fan favorite as the Hawks haven't had an enforcer in quite a while. As you might expect at his size, his skating is a little suspect. He can play some fourth-line wing if the Hawks want him on the ice, but aren't comfortable with him on defense against especially quick or speedy teams. He may not win every fight, but he won't lose many, either. His size and reach are too tough to handle, even from the best of them. Expect him to fight early and often to ingratiate himself to his new teammates and fans. Like most fighters, he has a kind and laid back demeanor off the ice, sure to be a favorite with the media as well.