It's no mystery as to what Kyle Davidson's plans are when the trade deadline arrives. February and early March will be like a going out of business sale for the Blackhawks this season. With trade bait like Kane, Toews, Domi, and others, there's a chance we could see numerous trades sending out veterans and bringing in younger NHLers, prospects, and draft picks. Based on other team's needs and reports from around the league, let's take a look at some possible players that the Blackhawks could be asking for come March 3rd.
1. Alexis Lafreniere
After being drafted by the New York Rangers with the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Lafreniere was thrown right into the Rangers' lineup and expected to produce. This did not work and the Rangers seem to have failed to properly and patiently develop him. Now Lafreniere is playing in his third season and has not met expecations. After being included in trade rumors for some time now, those rumors escalated on Thursday, December 29th when he became a healthy scratch.
These rumors go well with the speculation about Patrick Kane being traded. If Kane decides to leave Chicago, he will likely want to be on a playoff team that is close to his hometown Buffalo, as well as he may want to reunite with one of his favorite former teammates, Artemi Panarin. This makes the Rangers the perfect destination for Kane. Trading for a 21 year old former first overall pick is the type of move Kyle Davidson is looking to make during the rebuild if the opportunity comes arises.
2. Alex Newhook
As we have all learned after three cup wins, it is hard to keep every player on a championship roster together the following year. The Colorado Avalanche learned this after winning the 2022 Stanley Cup and losing Nazem Kadri in free agency. Newhook was their replacement for the 2nd line center, but it has not worked out so far and the team has been rumored to be shopping for a center. Now with Nathan Mackinnon on injured reserve, Colorado's center depth has taken another big hit. Just like Alexis Lafreniere, Alex Newhook was selected in the first round, but in the 2019 NHL Draft. The 21 year old center could be at the top of Kyle Davidson's wish list at the trade deadline.
Just as Kane may decide to be moved to a playoff team, Jonathan Toews could decide to move on too. This makes the Avalanche a perfect trade partner. Adding a player with one of the most impressive resumes in the league is a great move to make when trying to win back to back Stanley Cups.
3. Jesse Puljujarvi
Jesse Puljujarvi is an interesting player to talk about because of the situation he and the Edmonton Oilers have been in for years now. Yet another player previously taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, this time in 2016, the 24 year old wing has had production issues. After three seasons of being called up and sent down between Edmonton and Bakersfield, Puljujarvi decided to go back to Finland for about a year to play professionally. He came back to the NHL during the 2020-2021 season and has stayed on the Oilers ever since, but his production still has not been great, nor what was expected of him when he was drafted. Recently, Puljujarvi spoke to a Finnish news source called YLE where he questioned his future in the NHL and even questioned whether he should stay, or leave again. He has been included in trade rumors for years, but Edmonton's asking price has always been a bit too high for other teams. One thing everybody knows if that a change in scenery is much needed. Now 36 games into the season, Puljujarvi has only two goals and six assists for eight points.
Although Jesse Puljujarvi is definitely a project, the Blackhawks are looking for young talent and according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Edmonton could be looking to acquire players with grit around the trade deadline. The first candidate who comes to mind as a rental with grit is Max Domi, but why should Kyle Davidson take a gamble on trading for Puljujarvi? He has similarities to Valeri Nichushkin when he was on the Dallas Stars and look at what the Colorado Avalanche were able to do with him. Puljujarvi has not been developed nor utilized correctly. As stated above, teams have been interested, but the price has been too high. After Puljujarvi's statements to the Finnish press, the Oilers may lose some leverage in negotiations and his price may come down at the same time that Domi's price has gone up. Puljujarvi is already a solid player defensively, he has a big frame too. If he is put in a physical role on a line with hard working players like Sam Lafferty and Jason Dickinson for example, he may be able to naturally find more offense just by creating turnovers, playing with more energy, and having linemates with complementary skills. Plus, he wont have the mental and physical pressures of having to keep up with McDavid and Draisaitl.