In the final of the Chicago Blackhawks four major offseason acquisitions, they signed defenseman Jake McCabe to a four-year, $16 million contract in free agency. That makes for a &4 million annual average value. And with apologies to Jujhar Khaira, no, I won’t be writing a full article dedicated to him.
The Blackhawks did a complete revamp of their defensive core this offseason by trading out veteran Duncan Keith, Adam Boqvist and Nikita Zadorov. And while they acquired Seth Jones, Jake McCabe will arguably have a more positive impact in that area.
The Eau Clare, Wisconsin native arrives in Chicago with a ton of familiarity. He’s been in the Windy City through the past six offseasons, and is very close friends with Connor Murphy, who he’s played with at a number of USA hockey tournaments. His wife and him are also welcoming a new child to the family, and have got a house in the city, so it’s not as if he’s completely unfamiliar with his environment.
Unfortunately, McCabe only played 13 games last season for Buffalo due to a tear in his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in his right knee, but in that small sample size, the results were amazing – especially when you consider who he was playing with.
In the 140:30 minutes Jake McCabe played with Rasmus Ristolainen last season, here are the results:
- Corsi for: 55.22%
- Fenwick for: 53.98%
- Expected Goals: 57.74%
- High Danger Chances for: 64.58%
Here are his stats by himself.
- Corsi for: 57.02%
- Fenwick for: 56.83%
- Expected Goals: 61.97%
- High Danger Chances for: 69.57%
Based off of early scrimmages from Blackhawks training camp, McCabe has been partnered alongside Seth Jones. I think that would be a great pairing, but I’m of the mindset that McCabe should play with his longtime friend Connor Murphy. That could be the best shutdown pairing in Chicago since Oduya-Hjalmarsson.
McCabe and Murphy were ranked in the 96 and 85 percentile for even strength defence last season respectively, which is really impressive. Though they’re probably not that good, it would be best to put those two together, give them the toughest matchups, and give Seth Jones easier competition.
The Blackhawks have been bottom of the barrel in terms of shots and high danger chances for the past few seasons. But now, there’s legitimate hope for this defence, arguably for the first time since the cup winning years. Seth Jones will be better, Connor Murphy is underrated, Calvin de Haan hopefully will be healthy and bounce back, the young defensemen will take a step – whether that’s Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell, or Nicolas Beaudin, remains to be seen – now add in Jake McCabe, who will help complete the defensive puzzle.