Everyone knows who the Chicago Blackhawks are taking first overall in June at the NHL Draft. From there, it gets a little dicey as they’ll be trying to figure out who to take with their other treasure trove of picks. But before looking ahead to that time, what about what they did at the draft last season? Specifically, the trade that shipped Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa for picks that would turn into Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Kevin Korchinski.
With DeBrincat potentially on the outs with the Senators, here’s a look at how that trade measures out nearly a whole year later.
DeBrincat Trade At The Time It Went Down
In a word, it was a shock to the system. DeBrincat didn’t expect it, and neither did many fans. But the Blackhawks dealt their 41-goal scorer for the 2022 seventh overall pick (Kevin Korchinski), a 2022 second-round pick (Paul Ludwinski), and a 2024 third-round pick. This was the first warning shot that Davidson was shaking things up significantly. DeBrincat was a bonafide goal scorer while in Chicago and was just 24 years old at the time. In the blink of an eye, he was dealt for three picks. It also showed that a massive rebuild was on the horizon and seemed to number the days of stalwarts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. This would prove correct. Davidson would deal 2019 third overall pick Kirby Dach to Montreal for the 13th overall pick.
It cemented the fact that no one was safe.
Some felt the Blackhawks didn’t get enough. But with only a year remaining on his contract and still under team control, Ottawa was taking a risk of its own in having to pay much more if DeBrincat’s numbers remained steady or improved.
How the Trade Looks Nearly 365 Days Later
A season after the trade, the Blackhawks indeed shed Kane by sending him to New York. Toews was told he wouldn’t be offered a new contract. Recently, Davidson confirmed that Kane wouldn’t be offered anything if he did hit free agency. Davidson slammed the door on the past and cracked it open for the new Blackhawks to learn and grown on their own.
DeBrincat’s goal numbers were down to 27, his lowest total since the 2019-20 season. He still tallied 66 points but now there’s the sticking point that he and Ottawa are at an impasse. Any team looking for a scorer is interested–in that they realize he’s going to still command a hefty increase from his current deal that carries an AAV of $6.4M. But he’s a two-time 40-goal scorer and an asset in the locker room.
It of course begs the next reasonable question.
Would a Reunion Make Sense?
In a coincidental twist of fate, the Blackhawks hold Ottawa’s 2023 second-round pick in addition to three other second-round picks and Tampa Bay’s first-round choice. Would Davidson be tempted to use some of that capital to re-acquire him?
The Blackhawks have the cap space. It would bring back a fan favorite who would generate a lot of excitement being Bedard’s prospective linemate.
But it circles back around to Davidson’s comments regarding the new crew of Chicago prospects. He reminded that the previous core were able to grow into their own, without the looming presence of long-time franchise icons. While DeBrincat wasn’t in the same iconic category of Kane or Toews, he was extremely popular in Chicago.
Statistically, it would certainly be fun to watch but it doesn’t seem to align with the new plan. If in fact it did happen, there would be a lot of “happy humans” in the words of former Blackhawks commentator Eddie Olczyk.
There’s a lot of sense in bringing DeBrincat back. It could be a great fit for the younger kids coming up. It would also reunite him with a place where he was very successful. Essentially, though, it boils down to whether or not he’s seen as a fit in the organization’s long term plans.
A quick glance at who remains counts players who were not around during the glory years. It certainly doesn’t seem personal, but seems likely that it’s deliberate to start completely fresh. With that thinking, it seems unlikely that DeBrincat would be reacquired.
Then again, if there’s anyone who’s great at pulling off the unexpected, it’s Davidson. Then again, Ottawa may just re-sign him, avoiding consternation.
Either way, it’ll be something Blackhawks fans will certainly keep an eye on.