The rumor mill has been heating up for the Blackhawks over the past few days, as we get closer to the NHL offseason. The latest rumor that has developed is that the Blackhawks have contacted the Carolina Hurricanes about acquiring Justin Faulk. Everyone knows that the defense was the Achilles heel for the team last season, which is why this is such great news for Blackhawks’ fans. As I mentioned in my article about the Blackhawks’ 2018 offseason, the defense must be the number one priority this time around and it seems like the team is actually trying to address the issue.
It looks like there is actually some truth behind the Justin Faulk trade rumors, as multiple sources have reported it as recently as June 1st.
Per source: Hawks have discussed moving #27 overall pick to CAR for J Faulk. Probably one of many such discussions going on.
— John Jaeckel (@jaeckel) June 1, 2018
Carolina Hurricanes Are Looking to Make Changes
The Hurricanes were purchased by Tom Dundon earlier in the 2017-18 season. Ever since Dundon assumed his role as Hurricanes’ owner, the franchise has certainly felt major changes looming on the horizon. Dundon appointed Don Waddell as the new General Manager in May. Waddell was recently interviewed and he said,
“i THINK RIGHT NOW, AS I SAID, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT EVERY POSITION ON OUR HOCKEY TEAM.”
Waddell then went on to reply specifically about the future of Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk with the Hurricanes,
“THE GUYS YOU MENTIONED ARE GUYS CERTAINLY THAT PEOPLE HAVE CALLED ABOUT. I’VE MADE IT (CLEAR) TO EVERY GENERAL MANAGER I’VE TALKED TO WE’RE LOOKING TO MAKE CHANGES… WE’RE IN DISCUSSIONS WITH NOT ONLY THOSE PLAYERS, BUT MULTIPLE PLAYERS.”
The full interview with Hurricanes’ GM Don Waddell can be found on frshockey.com. This news sets the Blackhawks up beautifully for a potentially discounted deal at a position of need.
Who Is Justin Faulk?
Justin Faulk is a defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes. He was drafted in 2010 by the Hurricanes as a 2nd Round Pick (37th Overall). Faulk is known for being a great two-way defenseman and he is a proven leader. He was named co-captain in the 2017-18 season.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) October 5, 2017
Faulk has participated in international play as a member of Team USA. He is also a fantastic puck handler with a very accurate and deceptive shot that sneaks by goalies in a hurry. Faulk’s smooth moves and laser-sharp focus can be seen right here.
Poor Dylan Larkin got rekt by Justin Faulk right here pic.twitter.com/UvuztT3tL5
— Shane O’Donnell (@shane1342o) March 28, 2017
Consistency is the name of the game for Faulk, as he is a constant threat on offense.
— Hockey Reference (@hockey_ref) March 28, 2017
Another thing that Justin Faulk does really well is producing on the power play, either with his spot-on passing or with his pinpoint accuracy on his shot. This is something that the Blackhawks have been lacking the past few seasons. It would be a welcomed addition to the team.
If you have not seen Justin Faulk play, here is a video with a few of his highlights. Watch for him in either number 27 or 28. He wore both as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
As you can see from the video, Faulk has a tendency of being in the right spot at the right time. The only knock that I have on him is his +/- rating. If you play on a bad team like Faulk has in Carolina, you are more prone to having a negative +/- rating. However, this stat does not always showcase a player’s true impact on a game. I am confident that his luck will change when he puts on a Blackhawks’ sweater.
Scor Scor Scor Ice Ice Season Age Tm Lg GP G A PTS +/- PIM TOI ATOI HIT BLK TK GV Awards 2011-12 19 CAR NHL 66 8 14 22 -16 29 1508 22:51 113 85 32 20 Calder-7 2012-13 20 CAR NHL 38 5 10 15 1 15 912 24:00 63 47 24 26 2013-14 21 CAR NHL 76 5 27 32 -9 37 1779 23:25 94 102 41 47 2014-15 22 CAR NHL 82 15 34 49 -19 30 2003 24:26 157 114 70 50 AS-24Norris-22 2015-16 23 CAR NHL 64 16 21 37 -22 27 1539 24:03 109 65 45 42 2016-17 24 CAR NHL 75 17 20 37 -18 32 1736 23:08 117 84 53 45 2017-18 25 CAR NHL 76 8 23 31 -26 48 1692 22:16 128 90 63 66 Career NHL 477 74 149 223 -109 218 11169 23:25 781 587 328 296
Where Does Justin Faulk Fit In With Blackhawks?
By default, Justin Faulk will be a Top 4 defenseman for the Blackhawks. I would pencil him in with Duncan Keith on the first pairing, because they both play a very similar game and can hold their own on both ends of the ice. Since Faulk has elite playmaking skills, he would be a staple on the 1st Unit Powerplay line. A Powerplay unit consisting of DeBrincat-Schmaltz-Hinostroza with Faulk-Kane on the blue line would be absolutely devastating as long as Coach Q lets the Powerplay run through Kane at all times.
Faulk has two years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $4.83 million per year, so this could be a very cost-effective experiment. If it pans out, the Blackhawks will look like geniuses.
Justin Faulk is a player that can immediately come in and have a meaningful impact on the team. Faulk’s leadership and poise will be great for all of the young talent that is being infused into the Blackhawks’ roster. Hearing all of these rumors lately has got me riled up and the anticipation has me on the edge of my seat. Stay tuned Blackhawks’ fans, I think Stan Bowman may have an ace, or two, up his sleeve.