Signed to a “show me” one-year contract as a free agent from the University of Michigan, Blankenburg joined the team in the spring of 2019. He was at risk of being written off, completely forgotten, as he joined the team alongside highly touted 5th overall pick and Wolverines teammate Kent Johnson.
But that’s not what happened. In fact, it was Blankenburg who stole the show, picking up an assist in his first NHL game, and wow-ing the crowd with his physical brand of defense. He soon separated himself from the pack, and by season’s end, he was taking regular shifts alongside Zach Werenski on the top defense pairing.