Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks did well for themselves in the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline, but did they miss out on the potential for more? For as good as the returns were from the trades Davidson did make, a few guys still on the roster today certainly could have brought back some additional future assets for the rebuild, right?
The first name that jumps out at you is veteran defenseman Calvin de Haan.
I had de Haan right behind Marc-André Fleury as the most likely to be traded in the weeks leading up to the deadline. So much so, that I had the shell of a post pre-written for the occasion. But it never materialized. On Monday, de Haan had some fun with it, tweeting an “apology” to fans about his continued presence on the roster.
For weeks, de Haan was seen as a contending team’s prototypical trade deadline acquisition. He is a veteran blue-liner who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line to block a shot. Seravalli, Friedman, etc. All the national guys had de Haan as a likely trade candidate. We saw a flurry of defensemen move in the final hours leading up to the NHL trade deadline, but de Haan’s name never came across the central registry at the NHL’s headquarters.
Kyle Davidson was asked about de Haan not being moved on Tuesday afternoon:
“If the value’s not met, then you value the player more than anyone else,” Davidson said. “So we’re happy with the players that are here. We value them more than other teams around the league, clearly. We’re happy they’re still with the Blackhawks.”
Apparently, the asking price for Davidson wasn’t met, and Davidson wasn’t willing to come to drop it any lower. In other words, they weren’t going to do anyone any favors by essentially giving away a piece to another team’s puzzle. I can appreciate that. We know that Davidson’s asking prices for his players were sky-high. Brandon Hagel netted the Blackhawks a haul, and the deal that didn’t happen with Toronto was even juicier.
Davidson almost held onto Marc-André Fleury, as the goaltending market dried up, until Minnesota swooped in and offered Davidson a conditional second-rounder that has the potential to convert to the first-rounder he had coveted since the rumors began. So, good on Kyle for standing his ground.
But, now de Haan will walk at the end of the season for nothing. He’s a 31-year-old UFA who is making $4.5 million this season. It’s not likely the Blackhawks will invest any more money in his services with a log jam of young defenseman in Rockford that Davidson has to audition next season. So, while it’s impressive that Davidson knows what he wants and is willing to stand behind the valuation of his roster, it also might be a teachable moment for the young rookie GM.
Let’s say someone was going to give you a future fifth-round pick for de Haan, just for argument’s sake. Is letting the rest of the league know that you will stand by your asking price more important than extracting a fifth-rounder out of a guy who will be gone in a few months? Personally, I would have come off of my asking price for a player like de Haan. What I’m saying is, sometimes you have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Standing firm on the ask for a player like Brandon Hagel or Marc-André Fleury makes perfect sense. Standing firm on the ask for a rental defenseman … not so much.
Michael: I’ll counter, just for the sake of argument, that the upside on a de Haan trade on someone else’s terms (i.e. not very much) is probably not too far off from the more ethereal value of demonstrating to the league your ability to stick to a negotiating point. It may have cost the Blackhawks this time, but it could pay dividends down the line, the next time someone thinks about calling Davidson’s bluff. With that said, Patrick’s point is well taken and more certain than what I just laid out.
The same can be said for Dominik Kubalík. The struggling forward will be an RFA this summer, and there’s a slim chance that the Blackhawks will meet his $3.7 million qualifying offer to retain him for another season, so isn’t something better than nothing? If Davidson could have extracted a pair of late-rounders for Kubalík and de Haan, the Blackhawks would have been better off in the long run.
I believe that Kyle Davidson had a strong trade deadline, but there’s always room for improvement, especially for the NHL’s youngest GM.