How much is a veteran presence on an NHL team worth? In the Blackhawks' case, $6.875 million a year.
The Athletic's Scott Powers reported recently that Brent Seabrook is planning to return in time to play for the Blackhawks in their Qualifying Round series against the Edmonton Oilers, which could start as early as August 1.
Cue the debates. Does Seabrook crack the Blackhawks' lineup, or are his playing days over?
Seabrook's contract has been a huge cloud looming above Blackhawks' management since it was signed in 2015. With four more years on the contract left, including a no movement clause, what worth does Seabrook have to the Blackhawks?
Experience Isn't Cheap
The list includes three Stanley Cups, one All-Star appearance, three playoff overtime game-winning goals, 1,114 regular season games played, and 123 playoff games played.
And now, a bunch of fans who wish he were gone.
Brent Seabrook has had a career that only a few have achieved in the history of the NHL. As a major part of the Blackhawks' three Stanley Cups in six seasons, Seabrook was also around for the dark days of the franchise, when players had to give away tickets on the street. He has helped young players adapt to being a professional, has been paired with a future hall of famer in Duncan Keith, and is now working his way back from surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips.
Compared to the rest of the Blackhawks' defenseman, Seabrook's experience is priceless, whether he is in the lineup or not.
Blackhawks' Defense Lacking Postseason Experience
Excluding Duncan Keith, the current Blackhawks' defensive group has played in a combined 112 playoff games, compared to Seabrook's 123 games played.
Olli Maatta: 69 playoff games
Calvin de Haan: 28 playoff games
Slater Koekkoek: 10 playoff games
Nick Seeler: 5 playoff games
Connor Murphy, Adam Boqvist, Dennis Gilbert, Lucas Carlsson, and Nicolas Beaudin have zero playoff experience.
Duncan Keith will be relied upon, like most of his career, to play big minutes against the Oilers' best lines. But all of the responsibility can not be put on just Keith's shoulders, and that's where Brent Seabrook finds his value.
Brent Seabrook's best playing days are behind him. Never one with the quickest feet, growing older has only made Seabrook's skating more of a liability. He gets beat wide often, has trouble closing gaps in the neutral zone, and don't ever expect him to skate the puck out of danger. With all of the negatives in Seabrook's game, the one positive is not a skill on the ice, but rather experience he has gained.
With young defenseman such as Adam Boqvist, and even a seven-year veteran in Connor Murphy with zero playoff experience, the Blackhawks need leadership in all forms. Seabrook's knowledge of the game and experience he has accrued over his career will be invaluable to players competing in a playoff atmosphere for the first time. Whether it's taking care of the body and recovering after a physical game, or staying level-headed before an elimination game, Seabrook can help these players cope and succeed in these situations.
Seabrook's contract is not ideal. There is no denying that. But don't dismiss him right away. There is still value to be found in having Brent Seabrook as part of the Blackhawks, even if it's not on the ice.