Blackhawks sign Connor Murphy to 4-year extension, cementing new defensive core

The Blackhawks signed Connor Murphy to an extension Tuesday. | AP Photo/Jeff HaynesMurphy, already by far the Hawks’ longest-tenured defenseman, will carry a $4.4 million cap hit through 2026. The Blackhawks’ new defensive core is now completely locked up. Connor Murphy signed a four-year extension Tuesday that will keep him in Chicago well into his 30s, cementing his spot alongside new additions Seth Jones and Jake McCabe as the three Hawks defensemen signed long-term. The extension, which starts in 2022-23 and continues through 2025-26, carries a $4.4 million cap hit — a slight raise over his $3.85 million hit on his previous contract, of which he’s about to enter the final season. “When we acquired Connor in the summer of 2017, we had visions of him growing as both a player and leader in our organization for many years,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He has transformed into a defenseman capable of matching up with the opponent’s best players and someone we trust to help us preserve a lead in the final minutes. Connor’s voice carries weight in our locker room as a veteran presence and we’re thrilled that his development and leadership will continue as a Blackhawk.” With Duncan Keith leaving and Brent Seabrook retiring earlier this year, Murphy — a stalwart on the Hawks’ back end the past four seasons — became the Hawks’ longest-tenured active defenseman by a wide margin. But before Tuesday’s news, he was staring down the possibility of unrestricted free agency next summer. Even before Keith’s departure, however, Murphy had somewhat taken over as the Hawks’ de facto No. 1 defenseman, the guy coach Jeremy Colliton trusted most among his shaky defense. He barely trailed Keith in minutes per game last season (at 22:09, easily a career high), but often played the last two or three minutes consecutively of games in which the Hawks held late leads. “[Murphy is] the guy when we’re defending a lead,” Colliton said in April. “He’s got to be out there. He’s the best at defending and getting us out of the D-zone, being physical, getting stops.” Murphy also assumed a temporary alternate captain role — one that’s likely to become permanent this season — and made so many Zoom interview appearances that he became the clear voice of the defensive corps. He tallied 15 points in 50 games; his point total has fallen between 13 and 19 all four years with the Hawks. The much-criticized 2017 trade that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes for Murphy has, in retrospect, emerged as one of Bowman’s wisest moves during the Stanley Cup team teardowns. Hjalmarsson retired this summer, whereas Murphy has become much of the same reliable defensive defenseman Hjalmarsson used to be. The Hawks will now simply hope he can remain that for the next five years.

Blackhawks sign Connor Murphy to 4-year extension, cementing new defensive core
The Blackhawks signed Connor Murphy to an extension Tuesday. | AP Photo/Jeff Haynes

Murphy, already by far the Hawks’ longest-tenured defenseman, will carry a $4.4 million cap hit through 2026.

The Blackhawks’ new defensive core is now completely locked up.

Connor Murphy signed a four-year extension Tuesday that will keep him in Chicago well into his 30s, cementing his spot alongside new additions Seth Jones and Jake McCabe as the three Hawks defensemen signed long-term.

The extension, which starts in 2022-23 and continues through 2025-26, carries a $4.4 million cap hit — a slight raise over his $3.85 million hit on his previous contract, of which he’s about to enter the final season.

“When we acquired Connor in the summer of 2017, we had visions of him growing as both a player and leader in our organization for many years,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement.

“He has transformed into a defenseman capable of matching up with the opponent’s best players and someone we trust to help us preserve a lead in the final minutes. Connor’s voice carries weight in our locker room as a veteran presence and we’re thrilled that his development and leadership will continue as a Blackhawk.”

With Duncan Keith leaving and Brent Seabrook retiring earlier this year, Murphy — a stalwart on the Hawks’ back end the past four seasons — became the Hawks’ longest-tenured active defenseman by a wide margin. But before Tuesday’s news, he was staring down the possibility of unrestricted free agency next summer.

Even before Keith’s departure, however, Murphy had somewhat taken over as the Hawks’ de facto No. 1 defenseman, the guy coach Jeremy Colliton trusted most among his shaky defense.

He barely trailed Keith in minutes per game last season (at 22:09, easily a career high), but often played the last two or three minutes consecutively of games in which the Hawks held late leads.

“[Murphy is] the guy when we’re defending a lead,” Colliton said in April. “He’s got to be out there. He’s the best at defending and getting us out of the D-zone, being physical, getting stops.”

Murphy also assumed a temporary alternate captain role — one that’s likely to become permanent this season — and made so many Zoom interview appearances that he became the clear voice of the defensive corps. He tallied 15 points in 50 games; his point total has fallen between 13 and 19 all four years with the Hawks.

The much-criticized 2017 trade that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes for Murphy has, in retrospect, emerged as one of Bowman’s wisest moves during the Stanley Cup team teardowns. Hjalmarsson retired this summer, whereas Murphy has become much of the same reliable defensive defenseman Hjalmarsson used to be.

The Hawks will now simply hope he can remain that for the next five years.