While the NHL is still muddling through pages and pages of protocol documents in an attempt to squeeze in the completion 2019-2020 season, decisions are still being made for next season.
Wisconsin captain and senior-to-be defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk, a seventh round draft choice of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 NHL Draft, withdrew from school, which meant after the requisite number of days, he was able to become an NHL free agent.
Now, it is being reported that Kalynuk will sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Originally committed to Western Michigan, Kalynuk switched his college commitment to the Badgers in 2017 when the Badgers hired Tony Granato. Kalynuk quickly became the best of a shaky group of defensemen. He’s a good skater with outstanding agility, which makes him effective moving the puck up the ice. He still has room to improve on the defensive end, but his mobility makes him an intriguing asset on the blue line.
Kalynuk reached 25 points in all three seasons at Wisconsin, including 28 last season, when he ranked second among Big Ten defensemen in scoring. He tallied 13 of his 28 points via the power play.
A rebuilding Chicago team likely provides an easier path to the NHL for Kalynuk. There is also a close relationship between the Wisconsin program and the Blackhawks, with assistant coach Mark Osiecki leaving the Blackhawks organization to become associate head coach at Wisconsin.
For Wisconsin, they’ll now have to replace their two top offensive defensemen from this past season, on a blue line that already was not very good, with Kalynuk’s departure along with top prospect K’Andre Miller, who signed with the New York Rangers earlier this spring.