In an all too predictable turn of events, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves with too many depth defensemen. Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) is reporting that the team is now shopping Brandon Manning and Jan Rutta, while colleague Mark Lazerus notes that Chicago sent out a league-wide email trying to “undo a couple mistakes.”
Given Connor Murphy’s imminent return, the team is set to have eight healthy defensemen on the roster while only Henri Jokiharju and Gustav Forsling are waiver exempt. Neither of those two young players have done anything to justify sending them back down, but the Blackhawks might be forced to if they can’t find a taker for Manning or Rutta. Unfortunately, both of those 28-year old defensemen come with a $2.25MM cap hit this season—and in Manning’s case for 2019-20 as well—meaning they might not be too appealing for teams to take on at the moment.
There was plenty of speculation in the offseason that the Blackhawks would go after a bigger name to help their defense corps, but after signing Manning on July 1st and Brandon Davidson after a professional tryout, the group looked far from dominant. Behind Murphy, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who are both now in their mid-thirties and beginning (or continuing perhaps) their decline, the team had a patchwork of short-term deals meant to hold the line until their prospects were ready.