The Blackhawks ranked 25th in the NHL in penalty killing last season. They weren't nearly good enough in that area of the game -- especially considering they had ranked second in that department during their 2009-2010 Stanley Cup run.
I expected the Hawks to tweak their blue line this offseason. They needed a little less finesse and a little more physicality. To achieve that aim, the Blackhawks traded Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers last week. On Thursday, they signed a replacement -- veteran Steve Montador.
Montador played with Buffalo the last two seasons. He posted a career-best 21 assists and 26 points last year. He was also a career-best plus-16 in 73 games. This is a guy who will get down and block shots. He's No. 4 in the picture above. As you can see, he's blocking Dave Bolland's attempt during a 2010 game at the United Center. Last year, Montador led the Sabres with 136 blocked shots and saw extensive time on the penalty kill. He's also a right-handed shot. Montador joins Brent Seabrook as the only two right-handed shots on the Blackhawk defense.
The Blackhawks traded a seventh-round pick for Montador Wednesday. The defenseman was set to become an unrestricted free agent Friday, so the Hawks had about a 48-hour window to negotiate a contract. The two sides agreed on a four-year deal worth $11 million Thursday afternoon.
Montador is going to be 32 this year, so I think four years is a little hefty. But the average salary -- at $2.75 million per season -- is fair. If Montador can help the Hawks get their penalty-killing unit back into the upper echelon of the league, it will be worth it.