With Kyle Davidson proclaiming that a full-blown rebuild is on the way, and the Blackhawks season all but over, all eyes should be on the upcoming NHL trade deadline (March 21). The Blackhawks are in desperate need of an infusion of young talent — particularly prospects, as the farm is especially thin right now — and the deadline is as good of a time as any to add.
That is, if you have the right pieces. So let’s consider the menu.
Let’s get these out of the way first. These are the guys that would have immense trade value if they were being shopped, but there seems to be no shot they’re moved at this point.
Patrick Kane made it clear on Wednesday that he wants to spend the rest of his career in Chicago, and I think that’s all we need to know about that. Kyle Davidson isn’t going to move Kane unless Kane wants to be gone, so for those who want to see Patrick Kane finish out his career in a Blackhawks sweater, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
“I think there’s always business decisions. … There’s not many guys that play their whole career with one team. So it would be a privilege and an honor to do that. But I guess we’ll see how it all plays out.”—Patrick Kane on staying with the Blackhawks through a rebuild pic.twitter.com/raCNTRbaIe
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) March 2, 2022
Jonathan Toews hasn’t (yet) come out and said that he wants to be here through a rebuild, but he also hasn’t said anything to the contrary, so for now, we’ll assume that he’s going to get the Patrick Kane treatment in that he’s here for as long as he wants to be here. Now, what it’ll cost to keep him here is where the parallel stops between Kane and Toews, so there might be some future discussions on Toews’ future in Chicago, but as for now, he’s not going anywhere.
Alex DeBrincat notched goal No. 30 in last night’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers, marking his third 30-plus goal season in his five seasons with Chicago. The Cat is on an undeniable superstar arc right now, and he might have more value than anyone on this roster if he were to be involved in a trade, but I don’t see it happening.
DeBrincat is a perfect core piece to begin a rebuild around, whereas his fellow untouchable forwards, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, are more likely to be the leaders and teachers of the following young core. At only 24-years-old, DeBrincat will be the next big-money Blackhawk, and he’s undoubtedly worth it.
Seth Jones signed a massive extension that kicks in next season, and the Blackhawks gave up a pretty penny to acquire him from Columbus last summer. Might Seth Jones one day be on the block? Sure. But it’s not happening right now.
This group of players is likely receiving interest from teams around the league, but I’m not sure if Davidson and the Blackhawks will be able to find a deal that works for them before March 21.
Marc-André Fleury has been the most frequent name in trade talks this season, and he probably holds the most value of anyone the Blackhawks would consider dealing. If he wants to be traded, it makes sense to send Fleury to a contender that works with his partial no-movement clause (10-team) … But again, that’s IF he wants to be traded. This week, Kyle Davidson made it known that if Marc-André Fleury doesn’t want to be traded, he’s not going to be traded.
On Tuesday night’s Insider Trading segment on TSN, Chris Johnston reported that despite the veteran goaltender being an obvious trade candidate at a deadline sell-off, the veteran goaltender was leaning towards finishing the season out in Chicago if he has his way. This tracks with what we know about Fleury in that he isn’t a fan of moving his wife and two young daughters around at this point in his career.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) March 1, 2022
Kirby Dach has been a point of strife for Blackhawks fans and pundits this season. Still, the talented young forward is likely a part of the future in Chicago simply because they probably can’t extract enough value out of him in a trade to make it worth pulling the plug just yet. An unnamed Blackhawks source had this to say about Dach in a recent story at The Athletic: “He’s had a disjointed development path so far.” If someone came calling for Dach right now, the Blackhawks would probably listen, but it would make little sense to sell low on a player who is cheap and may still become a very good NHL player.”
Brandon Hagel might command the highest trade value outside of Fleury if the Blackhawks were to deal him, and if you believe recent reports, there are a handful of suitors with delectable offers on the table. Still, Hagel is here on a team-friendly $1.5 million cap hit through the 2024-25 season, and the Blackhawks might see more value in building around him than moving him. I will say this, though; while this one might be a tough pill to swallow, Hagel might be the perfect kickstart to the rebuild with the return he will command thanks to his team-friendly deal and his developing stock around the league.
Likely Trade Candidates
These are players that I think are the most likely to be gone between today and the trade deadline.
Dylan Strome has been dangled as trade bait to anyone willing to listen for some time now, but his inconsistency (both in his play and his playing time) prevented other teams from seriously making a run the former third-overall pick of the Coyotes. Now that Strome has played his way into a top-six role with the Blackhawks, his value should have increased, and he’s an ideal candidate to be traded at this point despite Patrick Kane’s belief that Strome should stay in Chicago.
Dylan Strome snatches a puck out of mid-air and finds Patrick Kane for the one-timer and the lead late in the first period.
I wrote about Dylan Strome earlier, and how his recent play might have him on his way out of town: https://t.co/QValqp3z2N
— Patrick K. Flowers (@PatrickKFlowers) March 4, 2022
Calvin de Haan can be moved relatively quickly, creating a roster spot for a young defenseman to get some run and a return on investment for the Blackhawks. He’s an affordable and savvy veteran defenseman on an expiring deal. There will be a team looking to add to their blue line corps for their Stanley Cup Playoffs run, and de Haan seems the most likely candidate to be dealt before the deadline for those reasons.
Ryan Carpenter is a solid fourth-liner on an expiring deal that could help someone out. He’s played that role well for the Blackhawks, but the Blackhawks have a guy in Sam Lafferty that does the same thing, creating a bit of redundancy there for a rebuilding team.
Dominik Kubalík has had a down season, which will hurt his value some, but he’s a potential 30-goal scorer. He’s not getting the type of deal he wanted from the Blackhawks at this point, so why not get something back for him now.
Eric Gustafsson is a veteran defenseman on an expiring deal who might be the perfect low-cost depth addition for a competitive team. Honestly, his value is nearly non-existent, but if they can get a bag of pucks back for him, I’d take it in a heartbeat for no other reason than to open a spot for the Blackhawks to audition their log jam of young defenseman hanging around in Rockford.
Henrik Borgström doesn’t have a tremendous amount of value at this point, but he’s an affordable forward ($1 million cap hit through next season) who probably ends up elsewhere.
In the end, the Blackhawks might need to make some tough decisions and dip into the middle tier of possible trade candidates if they want to maximize their return at the deadline. Either way, expect movement over the next couple of weeks for the Blackhawks, who are finally committed to a legitimate rebuild.
Got more trade deadline questions? Drop them in the comments or send me an email ([email protected]), and I’ll answer them in tomorrow’s mailbag!