These Five Recent Trade Deadline Day Deals Could Help the Blackhawks in the Future

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson has embarked on an aggressive rebuild over the past 17 months or so, and the early dividends are starting to get attention around the NHL. On Sunday, Scott Wheeler at The Athletic ranked the Blackhawks’ farm system fifth-best in the NHL, a tremendous increase from this time last year (and earlier this season).

Whenever you trade for prospects, you’re banking on someone else’s development plan and the assessment of your pro scouts to tell you if there’s a ceiling there to be reached. Thus far, Davidson has preferred picks to prospects, which makes sense if he wants to manage the complete development plan for the first generation of players he is tied to with the organization.

There are so many gambles taken when an organization trades established players for draft picks, though. Will the player(s) you want be available? How will those players develop? Will they develop? Is the draft capital worth the roster impact now? And, sometimes, what will the draft look like 2-3 years down the road when the pick(s) acquired are actually being used?

As you might have been able to tell when I took us through our Trade Tree Friday series over the summer, I love digging back into the history of transactions and seeing how the long game plays out. With the NHL Trade Deadline less than one month away, I thought it might be fun to look back at the middle-term payoff from some recent trades that were made on the deadline day itself.

Some of these deals involved picks we didn’t think too much of at the time. Some of them involved players we haven’t thought about for more than a couple seconds since they left town. But all five of them brought a pick to Chicago that was used to select a prospect who is garnering attention from scouts and analysts.

Again, all of these deals were made on the NHL Trade Deadline day itself.

Adios Gus (2020)

  • Chicago traded defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Calgary for the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft (No. 81 – defenseman Wyatt Kaiser).
  • When the Blackhawks have historically traded away players for anything beyond a first- of second-round pick, the return is often referred to as “underwhelming” or “a giveaway.” In this case, the pick the Blackhawks received was used on a defenseman who is developing well at Minnesota-Duluth. Kaiser played a significant role for the US at the August edition of the World Juniors and has been a strong player for the Bulldogs this season. I would expect the Blackhawks to at least offer Kaiser a contract and explore him turning pro when his season ends. A lot of people really like what they see in Kaiser.

    Goalie for Goalie (+ Goalie of the Future) (2020)

  • In a three-team trade, Chicago sent goaltender Robin Lehner to Las Vegas (via Toronto) for goaltender Malcolm Subban, the rights to defenseman Slava Demin and Pittsburgh’s second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft (No. 46 – Drew Commesso).
  • I know most recently we’ve spent more time talking about Lehner’s bankruptcy filing than his play on the ice because he’s on LTIR, but three years ago this felt like a deal that was starting something of a rebuild for the Blackhawks. Lehner was headed to Vegas to supplement Marc-André Fleury (who, ironically, ended up in Chicago when Vegas over-committed to Lehner). The package that came back didn’t feel like a huge haul, but the second-round pick was nice. That pick was used on Commesso, who many view as the long-term future between the pipes in Chicago.

    Two-for-One in a Three-Team Deal (2021)

  • In another three-team trade, Chicago traded forward Mattias Janmark to Vegas for Vegas’ second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (No. 62 – forward Colton Dach) and Vegas’ third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft (No. 81 – forward Samuel Savoie).
  • I know, right? Big time LOL here. It feels like the Blackhawks have taken advantage of Vegas and Vancouver fairly frequently over the last few years. Maybe we should all celebrate the letter V between now and the deadline? This deal in 2021 sent Janmark to Vegas in a three-team deal that somehow brought back a second and a third. Those picks were used on Colton Dach and Savoie, both of whom had terrific summers and got a lot of people excited.

    Bowey Out (2021)

  • Chicago traded defenseman Madison Bowey and Chicago’s fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (No. 140 – defenseman Jonathan Myrenberg) to Vancouver for the Canucks’ fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (No. 105 – defenseman Ethan Del Mastro).
  • If the Janmark deal made you chuckle, this one had me fully laughing. Bowey signed a free-agent deal with the Blackhawks on Jan. 28 and was traded at the deadline of the same season. He appeared in two games for the Blackhawks and then two games for the Canucks after the trade. In return, the Blackhawks received a fourth-round pick that was used on a defenseman who is skyrocketing up everyone’s rankings over the past six months. Del Mastro had a marvelous World Juniors for Canada a month ago and has already signed a pro contract. I love his game. Wheeler had him the No. 6 prospect in the Blackhawks’ system.

    Greene Flowers (2022)

  • Chicago traded goaltender Marc-André Fleury to Minnesota for Minnesota’s second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft (No. 57 – Ryan Greene).
  • The pick the Blackhawks got for Fleury could have become a first if the Wild were better, but the second rounder was still decent value for a goaltender his age in a walk year. Like Del Mastro, Greene is one of the prospects in the Blackhawks’ system who is really turning heads this season. As a teenage freshman at Boston University he’s been excellent; Wheeler ranked him the No. 4 overall prospect in the Blackhawks’ system.

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    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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