The Chicago Blackhawks signed center Drew LeBlanc Friday evening. LeBlanc compiled 13 goals and 37 assists this season at St. Cloud St. Due to the effort by him, the Huskies advanced to the Frozen Four. He won the Hobey Baker award for NCAA most valuable player.
The LeBlanc signing may have been the Blackhawks’ best acquisition this year. He will directly report to the Blackhawks. His offensive production at the NCAA level shows that he does not need any time down in Rockford. Many are wondering if he can be productive offensively in the NHL this season. Others are also wondering if Coach Joel Quenneville will want to keep the current centers the same (Jonathan Toews, Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw, and Markus Kruger). The best option for Coach Quenneville would be to place LeBlanc at a wing position; doing so allows the team to keep their current chemistry, yet allowing LeBlanc to see NHL action.
The LeBlanc signing may be more beneficial in the future, rather than the present. Although he is only signed through this season, he will become a restricted free agent. The Blackhawks should be able to match any offer for him. He may contend for the second line center position as early as next year. The decision to not make a trade at the deadline looks even better because the Blackhawks may have found a future second line center in LeBlanc.