Happy New Year, Blackhawks fans.
We’re about to enter silly season when it comes to NHL trade rumors. Things around the Blackhawks will be especially crazy, considering the magnitude of the names being rumored and Chicago’s popularity.
With that in mind, here’s a qualifier: Be careful of fake accounts and carefully vet those from which you consume trade rumors. In previous years, a Twitter verification was usually enough protection, but now that any jabroni can pay Elon Musk for a checkmark, any jabroni can make up a fake trade rumor or report and make it look real. Click through the account, check the timeline, check the number of followers, etc. Don’t get duped this trade season.
Now on to the trade conversation.
Wait…is Max Domi staying in Chicago?
On Saturday’s 32 Thoughts segment on Sportsnet, insiders Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman had a few updates on the Blackhawks.
Marek began the conversation with Max Domi.
It seems as if Domi has really found a home in Chicago. The team likes him. The (general) manager Kyle Davidson really likes him. Domi really enjoys playing in Chicago. Seems like a real good fit there. There are ongoing conversations between Domi’s agent, Judd Moldaver, and Kyle Davidson as to what to do. They’ll talk in the next couple of weeks, as well. We all thought Domi was going to get moved at (the) deadline…he might still, but with (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews probably moving on at (the) deadline, I don’t think this is the done-deal we thought it was going to be.”Jeff Marek
This is where I don’t envy Davidson’s job. From all accounts, and my time in the Blackhawks locker room, Domi is enjoying his time in Chicago, despite the mounting losses. He is in the room every day, talking to reporters, joking, and talking with teammates, and has been a solid, if not perfect, addition to the roster.
With big changes looming either at the March 3 deadline or this summer, keeping Domi might not be the worst idea in the world. While more Rockford prospects are expected to be full-time NHLers next season (Lukas Reichel, Isaak Phillips, and Alex Vlasic, to name a few) they will still need veteran bodies to fill out the roster. Domi adds scoring and leadership at an affordable price.
That said, as the deadline heats up and teams start missing out on some of their top targets, they will feel pressure to get some sort of deal done. Domi falls into that B or C tier of available players, and could be a nice consolation prize for a playoff contender. As I said on last night’s CHGO Blackhawks podcast, it would be wise for Davidson to “set his price.” For instance, anything less than a third-round pick and Domi stays.
The other option, which seems great but rarely happens, is the old “trade and re-sign.” The Hawks could send Domi to a contender by March 3, then sign him back immediately when free agency begins in July. In fact, they could even make some sort of gentlemen’s agreement ahead of time. In an ideal world, this is what happens, but these instances are so rare in sports.
Jake McCabe to the Oilers?
As soon as Marek wrapped up his thoughts on Domi, Elliotte Friedman chimed in with a little nugget on Jake McCabe.
“The other thing I wonder about Chicago is Jake McCabe on the blue line. I’m wondering if he’s going to be an Edmonton potential target for the second half of the season.”
Then, on Tuesday’s podcast edition of 32 Thoughts, Friedman added more.
I got a call this morning, and this is just spitballing. But we were talking…about Jake McCabe. Jake McCabe basically, he’s close to where he grew up. He went to Chicago for a reason, but he’s been in Buffalo and Chicago…he’s never had an opportunity to win and he wants to win. I don’t think the Blackhawks are in any hurry to trade Jake McCabe. I think they really like him, but I think they also recognize that this is a player who wants to win, and there are going to be teams…and I think Edmonton would potentially be one of them, that are going to call and say, ‘What are you thinking here.”Elliotte Friedman
Friedman, who went on to speculate that Pittsburgh might also show some interest in McCabe, is one of hockey’s most connected sources. I doubt he’d randomly throw that out without some sort of background knowledge.
For the record, I’m Team Keep McCabe. I love the guy. He plays balls-to-the-wall every night and is one of the few Blackhawks you can count on these days. He’s signed through 2024-25 at $4 million per and would be my top choice to be part of the leadership group if and when Toews departs.
He has a commanding presence in the locker room. McCabe is the consummate “lead by example” guy. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it matters.
Of course, when your team is mired in year one of a lengthy rebuild, no player is untouchable, and that includes McCabe. Any contender looking to improve their overall defense would be wise to ask Davidson what it would take. If I’m the guy taking the calls, I’m not taking anything less than a second-round pick for McCabe. He can turn an average blue line good, and a good blue line great.
The Blackhawks are in a rare position of power with their trade assets. Now we get to see how Davidson uses that power.
The Week Ahead
Tuesday, January 3 vs Tampa Bay Lightning
7:30 pm on NBC Sports Chicago & WGN Radio
The Lighting enter Tuesday’s game having won eight of their last 10, including three in a row. It’s amazing how one Stanley Cup Final loss in three consecutive visits somehow gets you out of the national conversation, but the Lightning are still contenders. They have three players, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, who average more than a point per game. Old friend Brandon Hagel has 28 points in 35 games. This is a team to be reckoned with, but Hawks fans should be rooting for a fall-off. Why? Because they have Tampa’s first-round pick this year and next. Right now, that would be the 27th pick in the 2023 draft.
This seems like a good time to remind everyone about our favorite Draft Kings parlay. Blackhawks opponent to score first and lead after the first period. You’re welcome.
Friday, January 6 vs Arizona Coyotes
7:30 pm on NBC Sports Chicago Plus & WGN Radio
WHERE WERE YOU ON JANUARY 6?!
Watching the Bedard-Bowl, of course.
While the Coyotes haven’t quite been the disaster we’ve all hoped, they’re still pretty bad and a threat to land the NO. 1 overall pick in the draft. 24-year old Clayton Keller leads the team with 34 points and will lead the Coyotes into their next era of competitiveness.
2022 first-round pick Logan Cooley leads Team USA in World Juniors scoring with seven points in four games, but hasn’t arrived in Arizona yet. If you’re looking for a potential future Blackhawks rival, it could be the Coyotes. Both teams will likely hit their peaks around the same time, assuming Arizona doesn’t just trade every player worth a damn.
Sunday, January 8 vs Calgary Flames
6:00 pm on NBC Sports Chicago & WGN Radio
While, it’s true that the Calgary Flames, who (on paper) got better despite trading Matthew Tkachuk and losing Johnny Gaudreau, haven’t lived up to their lofty expectations just yet, depth kills. When I look at this roster, I see a team primed for a long Cup run. After a rough start with Calgary, Jonathan Huberdeau has started heating up, with seven points in his last seven games, including a three-point night vs San Jose on December 22. Huberdeau and head coach Daryl Sutter haven’t exactly been the best of friends so far, either.
An MVP candidate last year, it’s apparent that Huberdeau has had trouble adjusting to the spotlight of Calgary vs the judgment free time he spends with Florida. He’ll figure it out, and the Western Conference better look out. I love this Flames team and hope they make a deep run.