Trade Market Opens with a Bang, NHL Jerseys Back in Hip Hop, Prospects Honored, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
It’s Tuesday of a week without Blackhawks action on the ice, but that doesn’t mean everyone is on vacation. General managers are hard at work lining up their best offers for players they believe can help them make a dent in the playoff races while their counterparts are determining their minimum ask for the players they plan on making available. Chicago is expected to be busy, and yesterday’s first major trade gives us some optimism that the flood gates may open soon.
- If you missed it around dinner last night, the first major trade in the NHL happened. The Canucks sent their captain and leading scorer, Bo Horvat, to the Islanders. The deal brought back a first-round pick, the Isles’ top prospect and a third-line forward who’s still young and has one year of control. A quick update from yesterday: the Canucks are reportedly retaining 25 percent of Horvat’s salary the rest of the way.
- The deal not only sets the market, but it also moves the top center on the trade market. Which opens the door for guys like Jonathan Toews, Max Domi and Sean Monahan to be in line for other teams with playoff aspirations that want to improve their chances of winning a championship. The clock is ticking on general managers, and the Islanders just made their biggest and best move to improve their chances at a playoff berth in an Eastern Conference that has some playoff questions that likely won’t be answered until March — after the trade deadline.
- This is especially good news if the Blackhawks move Domi in my opinion. His $3 million cap hit is less than half of Toews and Monahan — even if their current teams retain half of their cap hits. He’s out-producing Monahan and winning 55 percent of his faceoffs. He might prove to be a tremendous value play for a team that needs a middle-six center down the stretch.
- While the idea the Blackhawks may be able to make significant strides in accelerating their rebuild because of the potential return on some of their assets, I wholeheartedly agree with Jay Zawaski’s latest piece at CHGO in which he says Chicago couldn’t fall in love with adding picks for the same of adding them. There is still value in having seemingly underpaid, over-performing players as the Blackhawks continue to not only build their culture, but try to have a roster that competes (yes, to an extent).
While 2023 draft capital is every GM’s priority right now, the Hawks would be wise to not just trade players for the sake of lottery tickets. If a team is offering a first or second-round pick for your Raddysh/Lafferty types, you have to listen, but what are the odds your fourth-round pick becomes as good as Raddysh or Lafferty?
- The esteemed panel of hockey minds at The Athletic published a mid-season roundtable in which they discussed a wide range of topics. One that came up was which team they felt had the most likely shot at having the league’s worst record (ie best odds of drafting Connor Bedard). Four of the five analysts involved picks the Blackhawks to win the most lottery balls in April. In light of the Horvat trade news, I thought this was especially relevant:
- I loved this article about the return of NHL jerseys in hip hop. Some Hawks fans will remember all the way back to Queen bassist John Deacon wearing a Blackhawks jacket in the video for “We Will Rock You,” but it was in the 1990s that NHL jerseys became more prevalent in music videos. And the trend has come back. Adam Aziz spoke with Jennifer Ekeleme, the NHL’s vice president of multicultural engagement and integration, about the trend and how the NHL failed to capitalize on the opportunity 25-30 years ago.
- This section from the article really hit me. Ekeleme acknowledges the NHL missed the trend in the 90s because it didn’t get it. And, now, they have a better cultural clue and are better positioned to engage the trend.
Ekeleme did not work at the league during the ’90s. But she said the missed opportunity for the league was due to not having enough people internally who understood the culture.
“You have to be aware culturally of what’s happening in a particular community. The NHL is just getting to that point now where we’re catching up internally and understanding and being exposed to these different cultures,” she said. “It’s easier now with social media versus back in the ’90s. We’ve also come a long way in understanding that hip-hop culture is not dangerous, it’s No. 1 when it comes to music. Back then you could argue that hip-hop culture still felt very niche and still only belonged to Black culture.”
- The latest update to the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine college poll dropped yesterday. Minnesota moves back up to the top spot, but the Blackhawks are pretty well represented once again. Chicago has prospects skating for Nos. 3, 4, 5, (hopefully) 6, 7, 17 and 18.
- With Boston University climbing two spots to No. 3 in this week’s poll, a big reason has been the play of goaltender Drew Commesso. He’s been playing some of his best hockey of the season lately and was named Hockey East’s Goaltender of the Week.
- Minnesota-Duluth isn’t ranked this week but had an enormous weekend, sweeping St. Cloud State. Wyatt Kaiser had himself a strong weekend in the series, earning him NCHC Defenseman of the Week honors. The Blackhawks’ third-round pick in 2020 has 11 points in 24 games for the Bulldogs this season and I fully expect the Hawks to make an offer to sign him after the conclusion of his junior season.
- Finally, and seemingly appropriately given the opening discussion this morning about the NHL’s trade deadline, our Bulls beat is having the same conversation. The painful difference: the Bulls weren’t supposed to be bad this year. And yet, here we are with conversations about who could go. This is a really good discussion about who, how and why.