What Did We Learn About Kyle Davidson's Rebuild Vision on a Busy Thursday?

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What Did We Learn About Kyle Davidson’s Rebuild Vision on a Busy Thursday?

Chicago Blackhawks

Yesterday, we acknowledged that Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft was looking like the beginning of us learning exactly who Kyle Davison is as the general manager of the Blackhawks, and what his vision for the future of the organization holds.

And I’d say we learned a lot.

Davidson was the busiest general manager in the NHL when it came to pulling off trades. Chicago started the day with zero first-round picks and eight selections overall. But when the final horn sounded, Davidson had made three trades, three first round picks, and a lot of fans sad/unhappy/angry in the process.

Here’s a recap of the day.

Trade One

Trade Two

Trade Three

So, for those keeping track at home, Davidson traded two roster players and one pick for six picks and a veteran netminder. He added three in the first round, one in the second, and the first pick in the third round.

The picks:

So what did we learn about Davidson’s approach to the rebuild?

We said a month ago that how Davidson handled a DeBrincat trade would tell us a lot about Davidson’s timeline for turning this ship around. He might target young, nearly-ready roster players/prospects or he could go all-in on picks to begin turning over the pipeline in the organization.

He went all-in on picks. Not only that, but he traded the team’s best scorer and a big-body center the organization selected third overall just three short years ago. And he used his cap space to solve his goaltending problem, bringing in a veteran with two years of control while moving up 13 spots into the late first round.

As we’ve discussed at length, the Blackhawks need forwards. They need scoring. The pipeline is full of question marks up front, while the Blackhawks have what feels like 55 defensemen in the system. So what did Davidson do? He used two of his first round picks on defensemen. And guys who have some work to do to get their game ready for the professional ranks.

None of these picks is going to be ready for the NHL in one year. Indeed, two of the three — Nazar and Rinzel — will be playing in the Big Ten in a couple years (Rinzel is one year away from joining Minnesota while Nazar is headed to Michigan this year).

So… how did he do?

I’ll be honest: it really feels like the Blackhawks got fleeced on the DeBrincat deal. We’ve heard the excuses about his $9 million qualifying offer and “only” two years of control, but at the end of the day Davidson got two first-round picks for Brandon Hagel and only one for DeBrincat.

There’s no way to sugar coat the emotions from the DeBrincat trade, and fans have every right to be distraught or even pissed off. A 24-year-old proven 40-goal scorer was traded for nothing that will help the NHL team in the next two years. That sucks.

But then Davidson flipped the script and, frankly, I think he did pretty well on the two other deals he made.

Getting two picks for Dach and selling a player that the organization was clearly not excited about long-term was solid, and using that pick on a flashy offensive player in Nazar could make it feel a lot better long-term if he progresses at Michigan.

And jumping back into the first round, with 13 spots in the draft being the cost to Toronto to dump Mrazek’s contract.

Lots of mock drafts had the Blackhawks taking Rinzel at 38, the pick the traded to Toronto to move up to 25 where they selected him. Nazar was considered a potentially top-ten talent. And lots of scouts consider Korchinski to be one of the biggest potential lottery tickets in the entire first round.

As we get ready for the rest of the draft on Friday, keep in mind Davidson isn’t likely done for the weekend. He had plenty of other players who might draw interest, and the action he created at his first draft was noticeably at least, if not impressive.

There is no question that Kyle Davidson has the power to do whatever he feels necessary to turn the Chicago Blackhawks organization around. And he’s going to do it his way. We’re starting to get a sense for what “his way” means, and so far it looks like change is going to the calling card in Chicago for the foreseeable future.


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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab