On Oct. 7, the Blackhawks announced a trade that had more fans excited about the addition of another draft asset than the NHL players who were swapping jerseys. Chicago sent defenseman Riley Stillman, who didn’t really have a spot/role on the Blackhawks’ blue line, to Vancouver in a cost-cutting move for the Canucks.
In return, the Blackhawks received a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and veteran center Jason Dickinson.
Dickinson, 27, signed a three-year, $7.95 million deal ($2.65 million AAV) with the Canucks before the 2021-22 season after establishing himself as a valuable, defensive-minded forward in Dallas. The Stars had selected Dickinson with the 29th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and he produced 15 points in 51 games in his final season in Dallas.
The Canucks were hoping Dickinson would help their defense up front. But everything that could go wrong has in Vancouver over the past 18 months, including now two coaches losing their jobs and a list of injuries. Vancouver is an absolute dumpster fire, a rudderless ship that’s trying to figure out its identity.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are rebuilding and clearly looking to the future. So, while the second-rounder Chicago received in the deal was the focus at the time, Dickinson becoming a solid contributor in Chicago has made the trade a resounding win for general manager Kyle Davidson.
Last year in Vancouver, Dickinson appeared in 62 games for the Canucks. He registered 11 points (five goals, six assists) and won just 42.6 percent of his faceoffs. He was credited with 66 shots on net and averaged 1:28 per game on the ice short-handed. His season was underwhelming to say the least, but that was part of an epidemic of mediocrity that cost a coach his job in Vancouver last year (sound familiar?).
This season in Chicago (thus far), Dickinson has appeared in 41 games and has already passed his point total from last year with 14 (five goals, nine assists). He didn’t make an impact on special teams for the Canucks last year, but has one power play point and three points on the penalty kill this season. He’s already put 52 shots on net and is winning 49.6 percent of his faceoffs.
Dickinson has become an important part of the Blackhawks’ third line, which has been a strong energy source for the team at times this season. His work on the penalty kill has also been noticeable; he’s averaging 2:02 per night on the PK.
Chicago started the season with Dickinson on a line with Sam Lafferty and Philipp Kurashev. That line was one of the Blackhawks’ best in October before injuries opened the door for Kurashev to climb the forward lines. It still seems like when Lafferty and Dickinson have been on the ice together they’ve been able to make something happen.
Dickinson has had 21 high-danger scoring chances this season (according to Natural Stat Trick), which is only two less than Max Domi in 148 fewer minutes of 5-on-5 play. And his four primary assists at even strength as as many as Seth Jones has produced.
He’s also been impactful when his shots get to the net. Dickinson has created nine rebound opportunities this season, which ranks fourth among Blackhawks forwards behind Domi, Kurashev and Andreas Athanasiou.
As we pay a significant amount of attention on the upcoming trade deadline, remembering past trades by Davidson is a useful way to gauge the return he’s looking for in future deals. When he became the permanent general manager, he told us his focus in trades would be draft capital and players who can help the NHL roster now. And, in the deal that brought Dickinson to Chicago, he accomplished both.