Blackhawks ‘likely’ pairing Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook on top defensive line

Chicago’s top defensemen could be paired together to start the season.

The Chicago Blackhawks are getting the band back together. Coach Joel Quenneville, who is known to blend his lineup like a Magic Bullet, said Tuesday it’s “likely” he’ll pair Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook together on Chicago’s top defensive line.

Keith, 34, had 53 points (six goals, 47 assists) last season. It was the eighth consecutive season he has tallied at least 40 points in an 82-game season. He’s a two-time Norris Trophy winner, the 2015 Conn Smythe winner and was selected as one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players of All-Time in January.

Seabrook, 32, has struggled defensively since signing an eight-year, $55 million extension in September 2015. Offensively, he exceeded expectations during the 2015-16 season with career highs in goals (14) and points (49). Last season he scored 39 points (three goals, 36 assists), but his goal total was the lowest of his career.

Keith and Seabrook are the only two defenseman remaining from last season who played significant minutes. Connor Murphy, who came to Chicago from the Arizona Coyotes in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade, figures to play with Michal Kempny on the second line. Gustav Forsling, who enters his second NHL season like Kempny, is expected to slot into the third line with Cody Franson, Jordan Oesterle or Jan Rutta. Franson and Rutta are the favorites to be paired with Forsling.