Opinion: Why the Blackhawks won the Brandon Hagel trade

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes
Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

It's been 10 days since Brandon Hagel was traded from the Blackhawks to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Many Blackhawks fans were unhappy with Kyle Davidson's decision to trade Hagel based on his performance this year, but the offer was too big to pass up on. Many contending teams were willing give up first round picks and it was bittersweet to see the gritty forward go to a Stanley Cup contender, but the Blackhawks are 18 points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and it needed to happen.

Hagel was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for 2023 and 2024 first round picks and forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk. The first round picks, which are top 10 protected and Taylor Raddysh stand out the most from the trade. If you are unfamiliar with Taylor Raddysh, you should get familiar with him.

Taylor Raddysh
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings / Harry How/GettyImages

Taylor Raddysh was drafted in 2016 by the Tampa Bay Lightning and has played mostly with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Raddysh most notably played with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome while in juniors with the Erie Otters. DeBrincat and Strome seem to have found their chemistry while playing together on the first and second line and adding Raddysh reunites the former Errie Otters forwards.

Now, lets compare Hagel and Raddysh's performance since being traded.

Raddysh: 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games

Hagel: 1 goal in 5 games

Before the trade, Hagel posted 21 goals and 37 points in 55 games, and thrived under Derek King's coaching style, since King coached him while he was with the Rockford IceHogs. Raddysh posted 5 goals and 12 points in 53 games. Based on his chemistry with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat, Raddysh could be a big piece of the Blackhawks' future going forward.

Hagel is expected to see some decent playoff hockey, with the Lightning in the hunt for a 3rd consecutive Stanley Cup after winning in 2020 and 2021. With his current performance, we could see a decline in Hagel's performance and may not regain his form while under Jon Cooper's coaching. Hagel could turn out to be similar to Dominik Kubalik in terms of performance his first full season and may continue to decline.

The Lightning are going to have to battle in the playoffs based on the regular season performance of Eastern Conference rivals Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers. The Lightning paid a huge price trading for Hagel and if he doesn't turn out to the way they expected, then the Blackhawks could come out winners and could be considered one of the most successful trades for Davidson in the beginning of his career.

Davidson's long term future with the Blackhawks seems to be a full rebuild while acquiring draft picks and young prospects. Just because some forwards were not traded at the deadline doesn't mean that Davidson won't revisit possible trades before the NHL Draft in July. As much as I hate to say it, we could see Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on different teams, but finding teams willing to take on $10.5 million in salary seems like a stretch.

The Blackhawks do not have a protected first round pick in this years draft after trading it to Columbus for Seth Jones in July 2021. The Blackhawks' second round pick they acquired from Minnesota for Marc-Andre Fleury at the deadline could turn into a first round pick based on Fleury's playoff performance with Minnesota. The Blackhawks' main priority should be acquiring a first round pick in this years draft should Minnesota not perform as expected in the playoffs.