June 13, 2017
Greg Boysen

Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks signed defenseman Jan Rutta out of the Czech Republic after he was being pursued by numerous NHL teams including the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. 

Rutta is expected to jump right into the Blackhawks lineup next season, especially since Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya are not expected back.  With all the trade rumors surrounding Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, he could be taking on an even bigger role.

The 6’3, 198-pound right handed shooting defender will bring an offensive aspect to the Blackhawks blue line, something that has been missing for the past few seasons.  He had eight goals and 32 points in 48 games for Pirati Chomutov of the Czech Republic’s top professional league.

With Rutta being right-handed, this will allow Hjalmarsson to return to his natural side on the left, if he is still on the team come opening night.  He will most likely replace Trevor van Riemsdyk, who is rumored to be heading to the Vegas Golden Knights, on the third pairing and could be the “quarterback” of the second power play unit. 

Scouting reports rave about Rutta’s reach and he has a relatively good shot when joins the rush, which he often likes to do.  He has scored a lot of his goals over the past few seasons by sneaking into the slot.  He is good puck mover and shows good speed leaving the zone, which will do nothing but help the Blackhawks transition game when he is on the ice. 

At 27, Rutta is not being looked upon as a prospect, but rather a player who can step right into the Blackhawks lineup and contribute from day one.  He is making the league minimum and will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-18 season, so if he disappoints he can walk after one year.

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