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Blackhawks rumors 2017: Chicago ‘in contention’ for Jan Rutta, per report

There are several teams after the Czech defenseman.

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The Chicago Blackhawks are among several NHL teams “in contention” for free agent defenseman Jan Rutta, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers.

This comes after TSN’s Darren Dreger reported last week that the 26-year-old from the Czech Republic had received NHL offers from multiple teams. At the time, he named the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames as two teams interested, although he said he didn’t believe the former had “tabled [an] offer yet.”

Rutta is an offensive defenseman who just appeared for the Czech Republic at the 2017 World Championships in Europe. He’s recorded six points in 12 international appearances with the senior national team during the 2016-17 season. In the top Czech league, he’s recorded 60 points in 144 games, including a career-high 32 in 46 games this season.

So you can see that he’s playing well in the Czech Republic, although there aren’t many players who have succeeded making the immediate leap from the Czech Extraliga to the NHL in the past 15 years. But Rutta has those numbers, and he has size (6’3, 198 pounds). That’s going to be enough to get a flier from an NHL team aching for some offensive pop from the backend.

That’s something the Blackhawks could dip their feet into, as they’ve always liked generating offense from their defensemen, whether that’s by initiating possessions with outlet passes or letting Brent Seabrook rear back and fire off shots on the power play. Rutta hasn’t played in a league anywhere near the NHL’s caliber, but teams seem to be impressed by how he looked at Worlds if several are lining up to try to sign him.

He turns 27 in July, so this is nowhere near a long-term play if the Blackhawks land him. They’d be looking at him similar to Michal Kempny last season. At the very least, it would give the team another option, especially if they decide to trade a defenseman, and Powers’ report that they’re “in contention” suggests they’re still in the mix. For a cost below $1 million next season, it’s worth pursuing.