In a year of inconsistency, Jordan Oesterle was a bright spot on the Blackhawks’ defense, even if it was only for a short while.
After beginning the season as a healthy scratch, Oesterle eventually forced the hand of Quenneville to give him more playing time in December. In only 55 games, he blocked 97 shots, while averaging 20 minutes and 31 seconds per game, which was second-highest on the Blackhawks behind Duncan Keith (excluding goalies, of course). His Corsi (shots attempted+missed+blocked) and Fenwick (shots on goal + shots missed) were both higher on offense than on defense, meaning the ‘Hawks controlled the puck more than they did not when Oesterle was on the ice on even strength.
You can take the sabermetrics with a grain of salt, however, considering that the majority of the roster has a Corsi and Fenwick numbers and the Hawks finished in a distant last place in the Central. He was a decent player, but at the same time, he should be replaceable. After bringing in Brandon Manning in free agency, who had a similar stat-line with Philadelphia last year, the departure of Oesterle shouldn’t be a big deal.
Connor Murphy, Carl Dahlstrom, Jan Rutta, Gustav Forsling, Erik Gustafsson, and other young defenders (Rutta being the oldest out of the aforementioned list, as he turns 28 in late July) will be looking to anchor down a full-time spot on the NHL roster. All of these players competed in more than 10 games for the Blackhawks last season, and all but Connor Murphy hadn’t played in the NHL before the 2016-17 campaign.
Veteran defensemen Duncan Kieth and Brent Seabrook will both look to rebound well this upcoming season. If even one of them can contribute like their old selves this upcoming season, it will be a huge help for an attempt to return to the playoffs.
Oesterle should play every game in Arizona. He will join Niklas Hjalmarsson as a Blackhawk defenseman who has been traded to Arizona, as Hjalmarsson was sent their last year in a trade that saw the ‘Hawks acquire Connor Murphy.