The Chicago Blackhawks' active offseason after last year's first round exit has seen a lot of changes, including the defense. The defense was one of the biggest, if not the biggest topic of conversation when the Blackhawks were swept in round one of the playoffs by Nashville. The corps was made up of a lot of veteran guys who looked slow and worn down in the playoffs which raised a lot of concerns for the future.

GM Stan Bowman made it clear that changes would be made, and, sitting in mid-July with the season still a few months away, there has been a significant turn in defenseman with more Youth.

A number of veterans are gone for different reasons, which leaves newcomers/upcoming guys in their spots.

Campbell retires

One of the veteran defenseman that will not be with the Blackhawks anymore is Brian Campbell as he announced his retirement on July 17th. Campbell (38) played two stints in Chicago from 2008-2011, and he came back on a discount last year. He was a key player in the 2010 championship season and had a solid regular season last year with 17 points and a +12 but looked sluggish and over-matched in the playoffs. He was either going to accept a second year with the Blackhawks if they wanted him on the ice or retire. Campbell, however, will not leave the organization, as he will be part of the front office going into next year.

Trades and signings

Probably the biggest key trade involved long-time Blackhawk Niklas Hjalmarsson for Connor Murphy. Hjalmarsson played all nine years with the Blackhawks and won three Stanley Cups in Chicago, putting up 23 goals, 143 points, and a +109 in 623 games. His move was mainly to relieve salary cap which is still a problem the team is combating, however, Murphy will be a key player for the team.

Murphy is only 24 and has 258 NHL games under his belt. He has 13 career goals with a -30, all of which were on Coyotes teams that were not very good. On a team like the Blackhawks, paired with one of the veteran corps defenseman like Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook, he can go a long way. A guy with speed and scoring skills will have value on this team.

Another newcomer includes international signing in Jan Rutta. The Czech defenseman is 27 years old and scored 8 goals with 24 assists and a -3 with the Pirati Chomutov last year. While he does not appear to be a first line defenseman that will play with Seabrook or Keith, he adds some depth and is still fairly young.

Trevor van Riemsdyk is no longer a Blackhawk, as he was drafted in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights, who traded him to Carolina. He was only 25 but he had played in Chicago since 2014 -- though he battled injury issues. Also, Johnny Oduya (35) who returned last year in a trade, will not be back. After winning two cups in his first stint with the Blackhawks, he played in 15 games last year after returning in a trade with Dallas and really struggled to keep up with the Predators' quick attack.

Grooming the kids

There are a number of young blue liners who have been part of the organization but do not have a lot of experience. Michal Kempny (26) and Gustav Forsling (21) both played their first NHL seasons last year and are part of the future. Forsling played in 38 games with 5 points and a +3 and Kempny played in 50 games with 8 points and a +1. With only one year under their belt they will continue to learn and grow with the few veterans left on the Blue Line corps.

In addition to them there are some AHL prospects and protected players to keep an eye on in training camp such as 23-year-old prospect Ville Pokka, Viktor Svedberg (who played in 27 games two seasons ago), and 23-year-old Erik Gustafsson who has 41 NHL games under his belt.

With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook leading the way, there will be a lot of eyes on these Younger kids, with the hope that they continue to develop. Right now on the depth chart, only three defenseman are over 30 (Keith, Seabrook, Michal Rozsival) Who knows how long Rozsival will even be on the roster? The move for more blue line youth was necessary, now it's just a matter of if they work out well in the long run.

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