GM Kyle Davidson "Definitely Interested In" Trading Into the First Round of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Admittedly, this is a news story that is a few weeks old, but it arose and I never had a chance to throw my spin on it. Blackhawks General Manager, Kyle Davidson was asked in a postseason press conference on May 16 about his approach to the NHL Draft. His response was certainly interesting and it was very surprising to me.
This comes after the Blackhawks hopes for a first-round pick from Minnesota were dashed when the Wild dropped their first-round playoff series with the St. Louis Blues. This press conference also took place a week after the NHL Draft Lottery which revealed the Blackhawks would surrender their 6th overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets as a conclusion to the Seth Jones trade. I discussed the advantages of the Hawks losing that pick this year in favor of a first-rounder next year in my NHL Draft Lottery article and I still stand by that.
The point of me reiterating all of that is simply that I was very surprised to read the comments from Davidson. The new GM is now the head of a team that very badly needs to rebuild. There has even been slight inferences to uncertain futures for the veteran stars remaining on the team, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. This is a time for stocking up on draft capital. There is no other way to look at this. Now, fortunately, the Blackhawks have several picks in this draft from past trades, but none of the picks are significant. Chicago has six picks before the beginning of the 4th round, two in the 2nd, and four currently in the 3rd (if the Oilers make the Stanley Cup Finals and Duncan Keith finishes in top-4 of ice time on the team, one of those 3rd-rounders becomes a 2nd).
So there is a lot of capital, but is it really wise to turn around and trade a bunch of that for a first rounder? Would it even be enough anyway? Could they attain a first-rounder through a Toews trade? Maybe, but Toews carries a hefty cap that would lessen his trade value. Is there a team just giving away first-rounders? not that I'm aware of. Frankly, I just don't see this happening for the Blackhawks unless Davidson is an otherworldly wizard, which I guess is always possible. There is just no way for a rebuilding team to depart with valuable draft capital for a shot into the lower half of the first round. It's just not going to happen without further jeopardizing the future.
And I think Kyle Davidson knows this. This isn't him trying to tell the league to prepare for a massive and shocking trade up on draft night. I think this is the general manager announcing to the fan base that he is doing his due diligence. Declaring this could fuel some discussions with other teams as well. You never know what could come of a conversation between two teams, but don't expect the Blackhawks to move very far up without giving up future draft capital or Patrick Kane.
So what's the big deal? I guess it's just reassuring to know that the Blackhawks have a general manager who is earnestly trying his best and evaluating all possible outcomes. It seemed so much, especially in the waning days of Stan Bowman, that he was impulsive and threw darts at a wall hoping something would stick for the team and for the fans. I can tell Davidson wants to do this right and I think he is going to. Announcing your due diligence is a great first step in regaining the trust and respect from the fans after a wildly underwhelming season.