A rebuild was promised for the Chicago Blackhawks, and a rebuild has begun. Several players have been shipped out, and the returns were fairly respectable. Chicago may even end up with three first-round picks from it all. However, it probably should have been more.
Just to wrap up everything that happened there were three deals by the Blackhawks (check out CapFriendly for a breakdown of the more nuanced details of the exchanges)
- Brandon Hagel was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Bolts sent back two conditional first-round picks for 2023 and 2024, Taylor Raddysh, and Boris Katchouk. That's quite a haul for Hagel. Kudos to Davidson for pulling this one-off.
- Marc-Andre Fleury to the Minnesota Wild. In exchange for the Flower, Chicago received a conditional 2nd round pick. (The second can become a first depending on Minnestoa's playoff success and Fleury's performance.)
- Ryan Carpenter was traded to the Calgary Flames for a 2024 5th round pick. No conditions on this one.
That means Chicago ended up with two NHL-ready players, two first-round picks, a second-round pick (which could become a first-round pick), and a fifth-round pick. By any metric, that's a solid return for three players. The problem is that all of this only starts to be interesting at the end of next year's season, maybe. Otherwise, Chicago still won't have a first-round pick this year and will head to the draft with two second-round picks as their highest starting point.
All of this is still a great haul, but the fact that most of the picks don't come to Chicago until sometime after this year takes a bit of the lustre off of it all. It's always possible that there could be an Alex DeBrincat (drafted 39th overall, 2nd round) in the upcoming draft, but it isn't wise to bet on it. It's also going to be especially grating to see Columbus potentially draft high because of the Seth Jones deal.
What else is a bit of an issue is that there are a bunch of guys on expiring deals that weren't traded. Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Reese Johnson, Philipp Kurashev, Sam Lafferty, Calvin de Haan, Caleb Jones, Erik Gustafsson, Kevin Lankinen, and Collin Delia. For obvious reasons, Kirby Dach has been left off of this list, and it's unlikely Lafferty goes anywhere.
However, there were a lot of people that could have been exchanged for a pick. Davidson commented on that during his press briefing, but I think he's just papering over the fact that he wasn't really willing to negotiate as much as he maybe should have. With the exception of the weirdly public criticism by Kyle Dubas, what happened behind closed doors generally stays there.
Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times via Twitter got a good quote from Davidson on not having dealt more players, such as Calvin de Haan,
I'm not sure how reliable that quote is from Davidson, but at least Chicago managed to walk away from the trade deadline heading down a real path towards rebuilding the franchise. All that's left now is to watch the season play itself out, and see how 2021-22 winds down. Once free agency hits in the summer is when things should really be in motion for the Blackhawks.