The Chicago Blackhawks now have 9 days off for the NHL All-Star game. Seth Jones will be representing the team at the game in Florida, however the busiest guy in the organization has to be general manager Kyle Davidson.
If I were Kyle (I am), I would be setting the guidelines for other GMs on what I'd accept on some of my assets. Obviously we have some players with full no movement clauses (Kane, Toews, and Seth Jones) and then some players with modified no trade clauses from 7 to 10 team no trade lists (McCabe and Murphy most notably).
That shouldn't stop Davidson from making a large list this break and trying to determine 2 things: Whom should I trade. Whom should I keep for next season. It's truly that simple to me. Let's break down the roster. Keep in mind that when looking at our roster, we should consider many factors when constructing our team for the 2023-2024 season.
Not only will the cap floor (should be in the low to mid 60s (million) be an issue, but also making sure we have a good mix of veterans and youth is key.
First things first, whom are the UFAs (players that will walk in free agency for nothing)?
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Andreas Athanasiou, Max Domi, Luke Philp, Jack Johnson, Alex Stalock, Jujhar Khaira, and Jarred Tinordi. That's 9 veteran players from the current roster that will need immediate decisions made. Are any of these players assets that Davidson can move in the next 5 weeks?
The obvious names are our Hall of Fame duo of Toews and Kane. With said NMC, they decide if they stay or go so we can skip talking about them until they announce their plans. Athanasiou and Domi were signed to be assets. Athanasiou is wildly inconsistent and always has been in his career. A rival GM would likely only offer a low pick to acquire. Domi, on the other hand, has played well and has shown instant chemistry within our city and team. He may be someone that Davidson wants to hang onto. The other players have little to no value in the league for a multitude of reasons. Injury history, age, or upside are all limiting factors that should have them pass through Chicago without compensation back.
Recap: Wait for Kane and Toews to make a decision. Let Athanasiou, Johnson, Stalock, Philp, and Khaira walk. I'd re-sign D Jarred Tinordi to a 1 year deal to be a depth veteran for next season. Max Domi should be re-signed as well in the 2 to 3 year range at the 4.5-5 million per mark.
The players on the roster we may want to move on from: Ian Mitchell, Boris Katchouk, and Caleb Jones. These players are not young assets anymore. We see what we have with them and if they will fit into our future plans at this point. The answer for all 3 of them is that they have likely played their final season with Chicago. They could not be tenured and walk or be included in on bigger trades. More likely, Davidson will move them in 1 for 1 minor league deals the way Nicolas Beaudin was moved.
So here we are now, the meat and potatoes part of what Kyle Davidson should be doing with his time: Whom has real value around the league and what exactly could these players get me in return. I'm going to list them in the order of value. I believe that many factors go into value; overall play, term, cap hit, age, and potential re-sale value.
1. D Jake McCabe: Late 1st Rd. or Late 2nd Rd with B-B+ Prospect. I would stand my ground on this ask if I were Davidson. He has 2.5 years left at 4mil per as a top 4 defenseman. He is still under 30 and the length of the term is for all prime years. That should make him our highest valued asset entering the playoff runs for teams.
2. RW Taylor Raddysh: 2nd Rd and 3rd Rd Picks, or 2nd Rd and B Prospect. I believe that the Blackhawks will hang onto Raddysh, but as a middle 6 goal scorer on one of the best contracts in the NHL his value should be quite high. He has 1.5 years at 760k whilst retaining RFA status. That's tremendous value. I see his value in the Janmark deal range. I think a team would happily hand over a 2nd and 3rd combination, however I still do not believe a 1st is in the equation for Davidson when it comes to Raddysh.
3. Connor Murphy: Late 2nd Rd, or multiple mid round selections. Murphy certainly had higher value in the offseason. His play has been inconsistent to say the least. It would be wise for Davidson to hold onto Murphy so that he can re-establish a better return moving into the 2024 deadline.
4. LW-C Sam Lafferty: Late 2nd Rd, or 3rd Rd and a C Prospect. Lafferty has 1.5 years remaining at 1.15 as an amazing 3rd line player that can play in all situations. His value will likely never be higher. Most playoff teams look at his speed and tenacity as a great potential add at this deadline. I fully believe that he is worth a 2nd round pick to a team out there. Should we keep him, yes... but a 2nd round pick for Sam Lafferty can not be ignored if offered.
5. C Jason Dickinson: 3rd Rd and 4th Rd Picks or a B Prospect. Jason Dickinson was a cast off. A player thats term and AAV made Vancouver trade him along with a 2nd round pick for our 7th defenseman (Stillman). Now, he is an important middle 6 player that has 5 pts in his last 5 games. He has shown 2 way ability, consistent effort, and of late: skill. Is he worth a 2nd Rd pick to a team? I don't think we are there quite yet but he is on that trajectory. Still just 27, with size, he is half way through his 3 yr / 7.95million deal he signed. For some teams in the playoff hunt that may be a little pricey, however if the Hawks take on 50% retention could he net us a second 2nd round pick? That would truly be the feather in Davidsons' cap if he could pull this off.
Clearly the big names are not on the list, however I've given my reasoning for this above. Some players like Philipp Kurashev are in the firm "don't trade" category for me as well. He is 23 and is playing his best hockey. Would even a late 1st rounder compete with where he is at right now? Odds say no, therefore I wouldn't even make that deal. He is controllable for a long time, is only getting better, and is fantastic in the locker room by all accounts.
As Kyle Davidson enters this 9 day layover, he should be our busiest and hardest working Blackhawk. I hope he has multiple phones, his devices not on silent in the middle of the night, and that he starts to lay the groundwork as we enter the trade deadline. There have already been some minor deals in the league (Kaut, Merkley deal for one), however when will Chicago start to make their own moves?