The dust has settled, and the Chicago Blackhawks that we all once knew and loved, however, you show your love to this team, has been dismantled. General manager Kyle Davidson has shown that he is committed to the rebuilding process and is sticking to his plan to build the organization back up from top to bottom and from the bottom back to top. He’s already improved the prospect system in one year on the job full-time, and his goal of continuing to stock the team’s future took another step forward through February.
Being more active than any other NHL team leading up to the trade deadline with nine trades, here is the rundown of major assets moved by Davidson and the Blackhawks.
A rebuild is not without pain and loss. Games lost and painful goodbyes. This Blackhawks rebuild has already seen a lot of games lost, and it also saw its first of a handful of painful goodbyes when Patrick Kane was traded to the New York Rangers. It’s not the ending that Kane, the organization, nor the Blackhawks fan community ever envisioned. But it is the reality the team faced.
Davidson did his best to get the most for Kane and maximize value on his other deals. Still, it wasn’t as easy as some would have thought it would be to “fleece” other NHL general managers into offering their entire boatload of first-round picks for guys like Kane or Max Domi or Jake McCabe. In the end, Davidson played the hands he was dealt and further empowered the “tank” this season while also trying to “do right” by those aforementioned guys and send them to the best situations possible for them to play winning hockey.
That said, here’s how our CHGO Blackhawks crew graded Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson on his second go-around at the NHL Trade Deadline.
(P.S. You can watch the CHGO Blackhawks Trade Deadline Special here)
Greg: It is hard to be upset with the overall job Davidson did at this trade deadline. I would have been ecstatic if you had told me at the beginning of the season that McCabe and Sam Lafferty would fetch first and second-round picks. Yes, we all wanted more for Kane, but it didn’t go down in a way that could have benefitted the Blackhawks more. I would have liked to see a couple of legitimate NHL prospects added to the mix, but I cannot complain about the amount of draft capital added over the past few weeks.
It is crystal clear that Davidson wants to build this team in his image with guys that he and his staff scouted, drafted, and developed. The Blackhawks have a general manager with a long-term plan and has been transparent about it. That is all one can ask for. Now, we play the waiting game to see how it all unfolds.
Jay: If we look at what Davidson got in return, on the whole, it’s almost exactly what we expected, except for the Kane return. That said, Kane didn’t do Davidson any favors by waiting as long as possible to approve a trade. Further, he told Davidson that his options were the New York Rangers and only the New York Rangers. Rangers GM Chris Drury had no competition for Kane, and, therefore, no incentive to give back a huge return. That said, if the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final, that second-round pick becomes a first. That’s a solid return.
I would have liked to see Davidson bring in a more established prospect. Draft picks are great, but they’re lottery tickets. I was hoping Davidson would look around the league and identify 19-22-year-old prospects that needed a change of scenery or were blocked by a contender’s roster.
Mario: Davidson went into the NHL Trade Deadline with a goal, and he achieved it. Get as much as you can for pretty much any player not nailed to the floor of the United Center. Would more first-round picks for McCabe, Lafferty, Domi, and Kane have been nice? Yes, of course. But Davidson was operating to check off two boxes at once with every major NHL trade he made, which was to make the roster worse for the tank and get as many future assets as possible.
Trading Kane was a thankless job for Davidson, but he was put into a Claude Giroux-esqe situation by Kane and his agent Pat Brisson (who also represents Giroux) by coming to him with only one team to work with. The Rangers were budgeting to acquire Kane, but when that didn’t appear to be in the cards, they spent that budget on Vladimir Tarasenko. So when the second opportunity to get Kane came around, they had limited assets to work with to not hedge their entire future on one playoff run in 2023. Davidson did his best, given the circumstances, and checked both boxes on nearly every trade he made.