Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Late Signing Of Star Defenseman Ends Possibility Of Artyom Levshunov In Chicago


The Blackhawks were the most active team in the entire NHL this morning when free agency opened, signing a total of nine players including big names like Teuvo Teravainen and Tyler Bertuzzi. After a brief hiatus this afternoon, GM Kyle Davidson announced he wasn’t quite done yet with one of the biggest signings of the day – defenseman T.J. Brodie. The 34-year-old blueliner was signed to a two-year deal with an AAV of $3.75 million.

Brodie isn’t likely to score a ton of goals, having logged only one in 78 games last year with the Maple Leafs. He’s excellent defensively, though, having led Toronto with 159 blocked shots last season while adding 25 assists.

The move is a great way to shore up Chicago’s defensive unit, with Brodie likely to start on the top or second line behind Alex Vlasic. But in terms of the biggest domino to fall, the news is a big blow for those hoping to see No. 2 overall pick Artyom Levshunov this season.

After the action this morning, there was potential that Levshunov would be starting on opening night. After the team signed veteran LHD Alec Martinez, the idea was that he would be able to help support Levshunov on the bottom line as he develops. After all, there’s a long line of blueliners waiting in the wings for those last few roster spots, like Ethan Del Mastro, Wyatt Kaiser and others.

However, with yet another defenseman being added this evening, those chances are out the window. The defensive group is simply too crowded at this point to add another player, especially a young, prized prospect with as much upside as Levshunov possesses. Vlasic, Seth Jones, Brodie, Connor Murphy, Martinez and Kevin Korchinski are instead more likely to make up the three pairings throughout the year.

Still, it isn’t out of the question that we’ll at least see Levshunov at some point; it just likely won’t be on opening night. Blackhawks fans everywhere remember the vicious injury bug that plagued Chicago last year, and if the No. 2 pick is sent to Rockford, he could be the first option if and when more injuries happen. In the more likely scenario that he returns to Michigan State this fall, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Levshunov was signed to his entry-level contract and brought to the NHL at the end of his collegiate season next spring.

The news is disappointing for those who wanted to see Levshunov in Chicago this fall, but the opportunity to snag a big-name defenseman doesn’t come around every day. Brodie will play a big role as the Blackhawks continue to get better over the next few seasons.


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Jul 2, 2024 9:37 am

Old news again. He was going to Rockford all along.

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