The most tense time of the regular season is finally over, what a relief. We as Blackhawks fans can finally relax and not have to hear about Kane and Toews trade rumors anymore. At least until next year if Toews comes back healthy and wants out.
Kyle Davidson has really done a great job this year taking on the "seller" status at the trade deadline and the roster today looks very different than it did only a week ago. Since February 22nd, the Blackhawks have made eight trades and moved nine players out while bringing 10 players onto the team. Now that the final 2022-23 Blackhawks roster is complete, each major trade should be reviewed.
1. Chicago acquires defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, a 2023 2nd round pick, and a 2026 4th round pick from Ottawa in exchange for future considerations.
If these trades were being given letter grades, this one would get an A+. It was a bit frustrating last deadline and during the summer when the team did not bring in bad contracts and additional draft capital. Any time a rebuilding team gets an opportunity to acquire additional picks, especially a pick in the first three rounds, the team should take advantage of it. A 2nd and a 4th are worth taking on this cap hit.
Nikita Zaitsev is not too bad of an acquisition either. Although he is not fantastic defensively and carries a $4.5mil contract for another season, he may fit in well with the team. He plays a similar style as Murphy does for the team. He plays physically and gets in the way of shots at a great rate. Zaitsev is also 31 years old as well, it will be nice to have an experienced veteran on the team to help all of the young players now that Johnson and McCabe are gone.
2. Chicago acquires defenseman Andreas Englund from Colorado in exchange for Jack Johnson.
This one is a pretty small and simple trade. Colorado gets Johnson back on their depth chart after winning the cup with him just a season ago while Chicago gets a little bit of a younger defenseman in comparison, although Englund is already 27 years of age.
Andreas Englund, like Zaitsev, is a physical defenseman. He would not usually be an NHL regular, but played quite a few games for Colorado this year due to several injuries on their roster. Now he is on a rebuilding team without much talent, so he should see an even better opportunity in Chicago. Do not expect Englund to be a regular for long as he is not really your typical NHL level defenseman, but he can be a solid depth player to have in the minor league in case of an injury situation similar to Colorado's this season.
3. Chicago acquires forwards Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev along with a conditional 1st round pick in 2025, and a 2026 2nd round pick from Toronto in exchange for Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty and 5th round picks in 2024 and 2025.
So far, all three deadline trades have been fair and this one could be a smart move as well. The asking price for McCabe was a 1st round pick and the asking price for Sam Lafferty was a 2nd round pick. Most general managers would likely believe that those are fair asking prices considering the players' talents. The two 5th round picks are fair for Anderson and Gogolev as well. On average, teams only have a small chance to land a regular NHL player in the fifth round of most draft.
Joey Anderson has only played 75 games at the NHL level, but is also only 24 years old. He may be seen as more of a development project considering this will already be the third team that he has played for, but a project is not always a bad thing either. Maybe Davidson sees something in Anderson similar to what he saw in Lafferty, who knows. Anderson is not usually much of a scorer, but rather a fourth line role player at the NHL level. He is not overly physical, but does throw the body around as a decent rate. Considering his limited amount of ice-time, he also blocks shots and strips the puck away from the opposition at a decent rate for a forward as well.
Pavel Gogolev is a 23 year old forward who has yet to play his first NHL game. In the East Coast Hockey League this season, he has put up 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points in 33 games played. If you do not know much about the ECHL, Gogolev's 48 points places him at 25th in the league in points having played fewer games than most of the other players. Take with that information what you will, but it will be unlikely that he turns into a player that impacts the Blackhawks at the NHL level.
4. Chicago acquires defensemen Vili Saarijarvi and Andy Welinski, a 2023 2nd round pick, and a 2025 4th round pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for forwards Patrick Kane and Cooper Zech.
This one is possibly the most emotional Blackhawks trade in the history of the franchise. Most people so far have said that this was a lopsided trade and the Blackhawks failed to receive full value for Kane. Realistically it is impossible to get back fair value for a player like Kane, just ask the Oilers. Can you name any of the assets they received in return for Wayne Gretzky? What Patrick Kane did for the Blackhawks organization is immeasurable in assets. Kane would only accept a trade to the Rangers, so the Blackhawks were left with no leverage and just had to accept the Rangers offer instead of losing Kane in free agency on July 1st for nothing. Instead of dwelling on what was given up, it is now more important to look at what was received in the trade.
Vili Saarjarvi is a 25 year old defenseman originally drafted by Detroit in the 2015 Entry Draft in the third round at 73rd overall. He has yet to play his first NHL game. Saajarvi is more of an offensive defenseman than anything. This season playing for the SC Langnau Tigers in the Swiss National League, Saarjarvi has put up 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points in 49 games played which is good for 5th in the league in scoring among defensemen.
Andy Welinski is a 29 year old defenseman who has been around for a while, but has failed to become an NHL regular. He is more of a stay at home defensive defenseman who wont produce many points. None of his statistics really jump off the page.
Although an underwhelming package for Kane, maybe that 2nd round pick will turn into a 1st round pick. The Rangers will just have to win two playoff rounds this season like they did last season. Easier said than done!
5. Chicago receives forward Anders Bjork from Buffalo in exchange for Anders Bjork.
A free pickup for the Blackhawks here and nothing more. Buffalo likely wanted to get Bjork a change of scenery as well as to have one less contract on their records. This is a similar situation to bringing in Joey Anderson as mentioned above, more of a project move.
Anders Bjork was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins with the 146th overall pick in the 5th round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and he is currently 26 years of age. Bjork never panned out for the Bruins so he was dealt to the Sabres where he fell out the lineup as well. With 53 points in 212 NHL games, it does not seem likely that Bjork ever finds himself as an NHL regular. Kind of like Welinski, none of Bjork's stats jump off the stat sheet neither offensively nor defensively. As a rebuilding team, it is not a bad idea to at least take a chance on a free player and give him an opportunity he will not get on many other teams though.
6. Chicago acquires forward Maxim Golod from Anaheim in exchange for forward Dylan Sikura.
Just a minor league trade here although it is not clear why Anaheim would want to give up a 22 year old forward in Golod for a 27 year old minor league player. Even though Golod is an ECHL player, he likely has slightly more upside than Sikura. It is called a minor trade for a reason though and likely will not impact the Blackhawks at the NHL level, so we wont go into any stats or details like in the other trades.
7. Chicago acquires goaltender Anton Khudobin and a 2025 2nd round pick from Dallas in exchange for forward Max Domi and goaltender Dylan Wells.
There were rumors a Domi trade was coming regardless of how much Max and the fans wanted him to re-sign with the team. The asking price for Domi was a 2nd round pick which is fair value, although a higher 2nd round pick would have been nice. Not too bad of a trade overall though. As mentioned with the first trade discussed, anytime a general manager receives their asking price for an asset, it is not a bad deal.
Anton Khudobin is a veteran goalie who was just included in the trade to make the salary part work well for each team. In return Dylan Wells was included to make sure that a goaltending contract was going back the other way as well.
8. Chicago acquires forward Austin Wagner from Los Angeles in exchange for future considerations.
The only trade by the Blackhawks actually made on deadline day. Another free player because why not? From 2018 to 2020, Austin Wagner was a regular NHL player for the Kings. He was a fourth line grinder who hit everything that moved and would drop the gloves more often than the average player. Wagner fell out of favor with the Kings' coaching staff and spent all of the 2020-21 season in the AHL with the Ontario Reign where was still playing all of this season until today's trade. Now with a new opportunity due to a change of scenery, maybe Wagner can throw fisticuffs for the Blackhawks once in awhile and keep the pile of losses slightly more entertaining.
Overall, this was not a bad trade deadline for the Blackhawks. Kyle Davidson kept his word and worked with Patrick Kane to figure out a trade and then sold off a few more players before the deadline. He also acquired quite a few draft picks in return. No matter what your opinions are on his trades, look at it this way, the hawks sold off more NHL regulars than Columbus and Anaheim. Maybe these deadline moves help the team replace Patrick Kane with Connor Bedard. Talk about ending this deadline review on a happy note.