Blackhawks Moving Up In The Draft: Part II — Potential Partners
As we continue thinking about the Blackhawks’ approach to the 2023 NHL Draft after selecting Connor Bedard first overall, the thought they might move up is impossible to ignore. Yesterday, we discussed the cost of moving up. Today, let’s consider a few teams that might make sense for a move.
In our conversation about the cost of moving up, we saw three likely scenarios in which that has taken place in the past: moving a star player (not happening here right now), picks for picks and bringing back a contract the other team doesn’t want/can’t afford any longer. As we think about teams that might be potential trade partners for the Blackhawks if they wanted to make an aggressive move, those will be factors we look at. I’m also going to consider where the potential partner is in the life cycle of the franchise and their existing draft assets; those, too, can contribute to the desire to move back.
Here are a few deals that might make sense for the Blackhawks as we get closer to June.
Blackhawks Move To No. 8
Yeah, I’m going all the way into the top ten to start. The Washington Capitals are a fascinating team to think about right now. They missed the playoffs, let their head coach go, and have an aging roster with some serious injury concerns. And they have three more years of Alexander Ovechkin at $9.5 million per season.
According to CapFriendly, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million of cap space available with 17 players on their NHL roster. Could they use some money moving out? Possibly. Anthony Mantha (one more year at $5.7 million) and TJ Oshie (two more years at $5.75 million with a modified no-trade clause) are two players who might make sense for them to move out.
In January when Scott Wheeler of The Athletic updated his organizational prospect rankings, he had the Caps at No. 25 in the league. That isn’t great for a team that is nearing the end of its life cycle with their Ovechkin-led group of veterans.
Washington only has five picks in the 2023 NHL Draft; they do not have picks in the third or sixth rounds. They also do not have a second-round pick in 2024, but have three in the third round next year. So the Capitals have somewhat limited draft… capital to work with as they try to spark the next wave.
Would the Caps want to move down? It likely depends on which prospects are off the board when No. 8 arrives. Will Matvei Michkov slide that far? If so, it might make perfect sense for Washington to take him. There are certainly other players who might be interesting for the Caps to consider.
- The Offer: Chicago sends forwards Colin Blackwell and prospect Michael Teplý and picks No. 19 and 44 this year to Washington for pick No. 8 overall and center Nic Dowd.
Dowd has two more years at a $1.3 million cap hit, which makes this essentially a break-even deal financially for the Caps this coming season but saves than $1.3M in 2024-25. The Blackhawks can afford to add a fourth-line center at that number. And Dowd is a physical (136 hits in 65 games) player who also won 50 percent of his faceoffs, so he makes sense in that regard. Teplý as sweetener makes sense in that he has one year left on his contract ($820k cap hit) but doesn’t appear to be in the plans for Chicago moving forward. Two players for $2 million (a net $700k increase) and add a pick in the middle of the second round? I think Washington might bite if the guy(s) they want are gone at No. 8.
Blackhawks Move To No. 11
The Blackhawks have done business with Vancouver before, and the time might be right to get that number back in speed dial if you’re Kyle Davidson. The Canucks have been a hot mess for two years; they’re on their third head coach in two seasons and have had a number of players moved out of town already.
Here’s the rub: Vancouver is already projected to be over the cap next year; CapFriendly indicates they have a little more than $84 million committed to 17 players on their NHL roster right now. So they desperately need to create cap space quickly. Oh, and they don’t have a second-round pick this year or next year (2024 because Chicago owns it with Jason Dickinson).
Desperate, you say? Love to see it. Let’s go to work.
- The Offer: Chicago sends pick No. 19 to Vancouver for pick No. 11 and forwards Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson.
Boeser is 26 still and scored 18 goals last year. But his name is going to be out there in most trade rumors because of his contract; he has two years remaining at $6.65 million. Pearson has one more year left on his deal that carries a $3.25 million cap hit; he might never play hockey again, unfortunately, after a hand injury suffered in November ended his season and subsequent procedures made it into a mess that got the NHLPA involved.
If Pearson is indeed headed back to season-long LTIR, that’s another asset the Blackhawks could move to a team with cap headaches (see: Tampa, Boston, Washington) in a subsequent deal before the draft. Boeser has value to the Blackhawks’ roster in the coming two seasons, either as a top-six wing and/or as a future trade asset as well. One might argue helping the Canucks clear that much cap space is worth more than moving up eight spots, but getting the 11th pick in this year’s draft is worth a top-ten most years.
Blackhawks Move To No. 14
This one feels pretty cut and dry, right? The Penguins are getting old, as evidenced by their missing the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. But looking at their draft board, they don’t own a second-round pick this year and their only pick in the third round was originally New Jersey’s meaning it will come late in that round. Waiting from the middle of the first round until the end of the third is no way to inject youth into a system that desperately needs it.
Wheeler ranked Pittsburgh’s prospect pool 29th in the league back in January, which is far from a ringing endorsement. And with the ages of their core players being in their mid-30s, ringing them one more time is their primary concern. But it isn’t likely to happen without additional assets. And that’s going to require their new front office to be creative.
Further complicating matters for the Pens is their cap situation. CapFriendly shows them having roughly $20 million in cap space with only 15 players on their NHL roster. That number does not include Tristan Jarry, who is a UFA this summer. So they need some help there as well.
- The Offer: Chicago sends picks No. 19 and 55* (from NYR) in this year’s draft, forward Boris Katchouk and the rights to goaltender Dominic Basse to Pittsburgh for pick No. 14 overall.
Note: as I mentioned earlier, this pick is shown as No. 55 by Tankathon, but might be No. 56 if the Flyers indeed get a compensatory pick for not signing Jay O’Brien.
Basse had a really nice season this year for St. Cloud State but isn’t likely to sign with the Blackhawks; Pittsburgh might have to elevate Taylor Gauthier to their NHL back-up position next season, so Basse working with Joel Blomqvist in the AHL would give them better depth overall. Katchouk is an affordable depth forward; the Penguins need a few of those.
In adding a forward and a goaltending prospect to the package, the Blackhawks now slide back to including the fourth of their four second-round picks in the deal. This moves Pittsburgh back five slots, adds a pick to the gap between their first and the end of the third round, and helps them fill their roster for the 2023-24 season.