We’re just over a month away from the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3. If you’ve been living on another planet, the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to be extremely active at this year’s deadline. But as the day approaches, and the opportunities to add picks in a loaded 2023 Entry Draft start adding up, Kyle Davidson would be wise to not go overboard when looking at mid or late-round picks.
As the Blackhawks rebuild, we’ve been finding ourselves asking, “Who on this team will be here when they win again?” Seth Jones will be here, due to his massive and lengthy contract. Philipp Kurashev? Perhaps. MacKenzie Entwistle? Maybe. Ian Mitchell? Less likely, but who knows?
On Saturday, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a piece about Kurashev and his development. In the piece, he mentioned how Kurashev, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, was one of three players, along with Paul Cotter of the Golden Knights, and Jasper Weatherby, drafted by the Sharks, now with the Red Wings, from that round to play more than six NHL games.
That brings me to current Blackhawks Taylor Raddysh and Sam Lafferty. Raddysh is tied for the team lead with 14 goals on the season. Lafferty, despite a scoring slump and injury earlier in the season, has come on as of late. Both players have shown the ability to contribute at the NHL level.
Since being acquired in the Brandon Hagel trade last March 18, Raddysh has scored 20 goals … the most by any Blackhawk, including Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, since that date.
Lafferty, since being acquired last January, has 28 points in his 88 games with the Blackhawks. Seventeen of those points have come this season. Offense isn’t Lafferty’s game, but with his skating ability there is some hope that he can make a bit of a scoring jump. He’s on a 15 goal pace as it is. Could that jump to 20? 25? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
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?
Of course, there are always those late-round surprises. Blackhawks great Niklas Hjalmarsson was a fourth-round pick (108th overall). Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov was a fifth-round pick (135th overall). Red Wings legend Pavel Datsyuk was a sixth-round pick (171st overall). These diamonds in the rough exist, for sure. With the depth of this year’s draft, they might be more common than Kurashev’s 2018 draft, but is the devil you know better than the devil you don’t? Or the lottery ticket you don’t?
There’s no reason to trade Lafferty or Raddysh just to trade them. The Hawks need some players to fill out the NHL roster next season, and I’d like to see Raddysh and Lafferty as part of the team for the next few years… that is … unless some other GM gives you an offer you can’t refuse.
Bobby Hull dies at 84
When I saw the news that Bobby Hull died on Monday morning, my heart sank a little. Partly because a Blackhawks legend died, and no matter my feelings on the person, a lot of people I know and respect are hurting in the wake of the news. I also felt that way because I was dreading the conversation.
There is no way to discuss Hull’s legacy without mentioning his myriad off-ice issues, including well-documented incidents of spousal abuse as well as anti-Semitic and anti-black comments.
Off-ice issues acknowledged, Hull was one of the game’s greats. He is the Blackhawks’ all-time leading goalscorers. Had he not shifted to the WHA for seven seasons, he may very well be the NHL’s all-time leading goalscorer. As I said on Monday’s CHGO Blackhawks Podcast, if Doc Brown pulled up in the DeLorean and asked where I’d like to go, I’d still say, “Chicago Stadium…1961.”
The Week Ahead:
The Blackhawks are off until Tuesday, February 7 due to the All-Star break.