Could — Should — the Blackhawk Bring Max Domi Back This Summer?
The last big deal the Blackhawks made was trading Max Domi to the Dallas Stars on Thursday. It surprised a few folks, disappointed some fans, and put a cap on the Blackhawks significant activity before the trade deadline.
As I wrote at the time, Domi bet on himself this season with a one-year contract on a Blackhawks team that was openly beginning a serious rebuild. But he was intentional about coming to Chicago; he knew this was as much an important season for him as it was the Blackhawks, but also saw a group of players and coaches with a lot to prove. He said this back in September when he arrived:
“We’re super happy to be here, we’ve got a great group of guys working hard every single day, and as far as we’re concerned, we’re here to win hockey games. Take it game by game, day by day, and let the rest take care of itself.”
Domi openly said he wanted to play for Luke Richardson — they’ve known each other for a long time and Domi’s best season was in Montreal, where Richardson was on the coaching staff. So that relationship played into his coming to Chicago. And they worked well together.
Through the course of his time in Chicago — in which he was the team’s leading scorer and point producer — Domi answered a lot of questions about himself. He won faceoffs. He produced with and without Patrick Kane on his line. And he showed a lot of leadership on a young, evolving roster.
Obviously Richardson and Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson couldn’t say too much; Davidson avoided the question about bringing back Domi artfully in his post-deadline press conference. They can’t say too much because Domi is now a Dallas player and that’s called tampering. But Richardson did talk about his relationship with the player.
Domi shared a little about his leaving as well. And indications are that Kane was right when he said Domi blowing up against Dallas opened their eyes a bit. Davidson noted that things changed quickly with the Domi trade scenario when the Stars brought a second-round pick to the table. If the returning assets weren’t there, the Blackhawks likely wouldn’t have moved their top-line center. It made things especially awkward that the trade happened with the team Chicago was playing that night — on Domi’s 28th birthday.
Which begs the immediate question: could Domi be back in Chicago when he hits free agency this summer?
The answer is absolutely yes. As I reported previously, the idea of the Blackhawks bringing Domi back was on the table and there were reportedly conversations about an extension. Those conversations may have simply been put on hold for a few months until he reaches UFA this summer, but could easily be re-visited in July.
Chicago has very little money on the books up front in the coming seasons, so being able to afford a deal isn’t really an issue. And I think we can all agree based on what Domi did this season that he fits into this room and with the players they’re assembling here.
We can’t have him for the next few months, but I think a lot of Chicago fans wouldn’t mind Max Domi running it back for a few years as the Blackhawks begin integrating more youth and skill into the lineup around him.