In reality, there’s no such thing as an “untouchable” player when it comes to trade season. Or, at least there shouldn’t be. We can split hairs about a price being so high on a player (like, say, Connor McDavid) that no reasonable team would pay the cost, effectively making him untouchable, but that’s not really useful for the purposes of discussion. Moreover, when it comes to the Blackhawks, they have no one like Connor McDavid, so the idea of anyone on this team truly being “untouchable” in the trade market isn’t realistic.
That said, don’t expect Chicago to go full fire sale over the next eight weeks as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches. Previously, players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been marked as “untouchable” for Chicago, unless they asked to be traded, which is a different type of untouchable. Meanwhile, Alex DeBrincat may or may not be an “untouchable” player for the Blackhawks, depending on who you ask. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli says DeBrincat could be on the trade block, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks otherwise.
• But according to Scott Powers of The Athletic, any one of the Blackhawks could be on the trade market, if the right deal is there.
For the record, the Blackhawks aren’t shopping DeBrincat. A source said the Blackhawks aren’t actively looking to trade much of anyone at the moment. But if someone came calling for DeBrincat, the Blackhawks would take a moment to listen them out.
“Anyone can be had,” a league source said of the Blackhawks.
• As Scott goes on to say in his latest, there’s a sense that interim GM Kyle Davidson is taking a realistic approach to the roster and not overhyping his own players or prospects, like the front office of the past had been known to do under Stan Bowman. While Kane, Toews, and Seth Jones are nearly unmovable because of their contracts, DeBrincat would get a major haul back and is cost-efficient for the next year, should he be traded before his current deal expires. Which again, is unlikely.
• Any of those players would likely require a first-round draft pick in a trade package to acquire them. Maybe not Jonathan Toews if he were a rental, but even still a high-price even with the Blackhawks likely retaining salary in a hypothetical trade. But it appears that Chicago may not be too keen on getting back the 2022 first-round pick they are likely to lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Unless the Blackhawks win the NHL Draft Lottery with the first or second-overall pick, Powers explains that the 2022 first-round pick sent to the Blue Jackets in the Seth Jones trade may not end up hurting the Blackhawks as much as you might think, given the depth of the first round in this year’s 2022 NHL Draft Class.
• The biggest player that is going to likely garner a first-round pick and makes sense for the Blackhawks to trade in the next eight weeks is goaltender Marc-André Fleury. He’s been the subject of a number of trade rumors as the season has progressed and Chicago has continued to fall further away from contending for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although teams like Edmonton, Washington, and Colorado have been rumored to be interested in getting a top-end goaltender, Fleury holds a ten-team no-trade clause on his deal, which gives him some control over the situation. It’s going to take a lot for the Blackhawks to give up Fleury, as they believe they can still get into a postseason chase and Fleury has made it clear he wants to help Chicago get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
• Dominik Kubalík continues to be mentioned as the trade deadline approaches and it really feels like his time with the Blackhawks is coming to a close soon. While he won’t likely be fetching a first-round pick in any trade package, getting a second or third-round pick for the 26-year-old doesn’t sound out of the realm of possibility. Although his RFA qualifying offer ($4M) will be something potential acquiring teams will be mindful of.
• Others still likely to be moved by Chicago include defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Dylan Strome. Chicago’s mindset over the next few weeks should be to get as much future capital as possible for selling-off spare parts. With keeping players like Kane, Toews, Jones, DeBrincat around, the focus with the Blackhawks will have to be a blend of the future and the present. Kirby Dach, Brandon Hagel, and Lukas Reichel are in the plans as well and the prospect pipeline looks promising with Drew Commesso, Alex Vlasic, Landon Slaggert, Wyatt Kaiser, Colton Dach, and a slew of IceHogs defensemen on the rise.
• Outside of the trade market, the Blackhawks could be active in the free agent market this summer, both domestically and abroad. Chicago is reportedly interested in top KHL free agent-to-be Andrei Kuzmenko. The 25-year-old forward is second in the KHL in scoring this season and was named to Russia’s 2022 Winter Olympic squad as a reserve player. He’s spent the parts of the last eight seasons in the KHL, with the past four being a full-time KHLer with SKA St. Petersburg. Chicago has had success going to the European market before with the likes of Artemiy Panarin, Michal Kempny, and David Kämpf to name a few.