No, we didn’t call Miss Cleo about this one. But where there’s a lot of smoke, there is usually a fire (or a cigar I’m smoking). And there’s a lot of smoke around Alex DeBrincat right now.
Our Bulls guys have embraced the obsessive Zach LaVine trade/re-sign watch this summer. He’s been a daily rumor at this point, and Bulls fans are on the fence about whether or not he’ll get the bag from Chicago or sign-and-trade to a destination of his choice.
LaVine is a free agent on a roster that has legitimate championship aspirations.
DeBrincat, on the other hand, has one year remaining on a contract with a team that’s transitioning to a rebuild. And all of the smoke is telling us that his time in Chicago may be limited — if not over already.
Scott Powers and Shayna Goldman wrote a piece about the Blackhawks’ approach to the future at The Athletic, wondering how bad they would need to get to have the best shot at the No. 1 overall pick next year (Connor Bedard is reportedly that good).
“I doubt DeBrincat is with the team through next season,” a league source said recently. “He’s either traded this summer or next trade deadline.”
So there’s that. Add to it the way Frank Seravelli wrote about his days in Chicago at The Daily Faceoff.
“The question seems to be ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the Hawks will move the two-time 40-goal scorer. Is it this summer, or before next season’s trade deadline?”
Throw into the mix what Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek at SportsNet said about DeBrincat previously, and we have a lot of people who generally know what they’re talking about indicating DeBrincat will move at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The painful reality for Blackhawks fans is that DeBrincat’s name is going to be incredibly popular this summer, especially for teams watching these playoffs realizing they need to score to win. As Seravelli pointed out, DeBrincat has scored more goals than Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand over the last four seasons. He should be a marquee name in the NHL. And the right trade would help amplify his skillset to a larger audience.
Seravelli made a few other good points about why DeBrincat’s considered a top trade piece.
1) DeBrincat is Chicago’s best trade chip to begin stockpiling future assets.
2) By the time Chicago gets to where they want, he will be middle-aged by NHL standards.
3) With a $9 million qualifying offer due at the end of next season, [the Blackhawks] need to pay big to keep him on what should be a struggling squad.
For fans of a specific age range, this summer and the coming season may feel an awful lot like the 1990s have returned. We can all hope the Blackhawks get a better return for DeBrincat than they did for Jeremy Roenick (with all due respect to the undervalued career of Alexei Zhamnov). And the NHL has changed a great deal in the 26 years since JR was traded to the Coyotes, so we can hope the new regime in Chicago has its eyes on the prize and not only saving money.
Welcome to the rebuild, Blackhawks fans.