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Slater Koekkoek Excelled in Role with Blackhawks this Season

Slater Koekkoek has proven that he is a quality fifth or sixth defenseman in the NHL. With an expiring contract this offseason, his future with the team is hanging in the balance.

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Slater Koekkoek started the 2019-20 season as the odd man out in the Blackhawks defensive group. For the time, Brent Seabrook was still in the lineup, Calvin de Haan was a much-welcomed addition, and it seemed Koekkoek had to be patient for his chance to crack the lineup. Then came the injuries and more recently the departure of Erik Gustafsson.

Now that the season is presumably finished, the Blackhawks played 70 games this season, and of those 70 games, Koekkoek was in the lineup for only 42 of them. With all of the injuries and lackluster play of others at the position, it was still the fifth-most games played by a Blackhawks defenseman this season.

How Koekkoek Stacks Up

A breakdown of games and minutes played by Blackhawks defenseman in 2019-20:

  • 1. Olli Maatta – 65 GP (1,197 TOI)
  • 2. Duncan Keith – 61 GP (1,487 TOI)
  • 3. Erik Gustafsson – 59 GP (1,219 TOI)
  • 4. Connor Murphy – 58 GP (1,232 TOI)
  • 5. Slater Koekkoek – 42 GP (703 TOI)
Photo: Getty Images

Compared to the four defensemen who saw more action than Koekkoek this season, below is how he compares in terms of 5v5 play.

Goals For%

Koekkoek had the second-best goals for% with 52.94% (Gustafsson had best %).

Expected Goals For%

Koekkoek had the best expected goals for% with 53.75%.

Shots For%

Koekkoek had the second-best shots for% with 49.55% (Murphy had best %).

Scoring Chances For%

Koekkoek had the best scoring chances for% with a 51.45%.

High-Danger Chances For%

Koekkoek had the best high-danger scoring chances for% with 51%.

(via Natural Stat Trick)

Expected Contract

Slater Koekkoek’s current contract of one-year, $925K expires this offseason. Never in his professional career has he signed a deal of more than one year, and his next contract probably won’t be any different.

Koekkoek has proven that he is a quality fifth or sixth defenseman in the NHL and the Blackhawks would be wise to keep him around. If he stays with the team, it will likely be another one-year deal due to the influx of quality young talent waiting their turn in the organization, but he has proven his worth to the team and deserves a roster spot in 2020-21.


Featured Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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