Everyone knows who the Chicago Blackhawks are taking with the first pick of the 2023 NHL Draft. From there, should the Blackhawks want to move up, say into the top 10, who could they swing a deal with?
But before we even get to that question, is it even possible to deal the pieces to get into the top ten? In the era of the draft where generational players were available, what fruits have the top ten produced to justify a trade up?
Where’s the sweet spot? Is there one? Is it even worth it? Here’s a look at each spot starting with the fourth overall pick since it’s likely the first, second and third overall pick have no chance of budging.
Please note–a trade up into the top ten–in this piece–means days before or during the draft.
Picks Four Through Nine From 2015-2022
A quick look reveals a tough sell should a team want to move up to the fourth overall pick. The value its given teams over the past eight draft years is pretty telltale. Marner and Makar almost kill a deal singlehandedly. Outside of Pulujarvi which may have been more development malpractice on the part of Edmonton, it’s a solid group at four.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #4 Since 2015: 0
The fifth overall pick is more of a mixed bag. Some have hit as they hoped and some haven’t. Hanafin was traded to Calgary and is now rumored to be on the move again. Juolevi bounced around the league and is now out of it. Hayton’s numbers have been pedestrian. Turcotte has even been questioned as to whether he’s going to turn into the offensive dynamo Los Angeles was banking on. The latest three picks are still quite early in their development to make a call.
This spot isn’t as much of a sure bet as fourth has been but it’s still going to cost a hell of a lot to get to this spot.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #5 Since 2015: 0
Not since 2018 has a team taken a forward and interestingly, Quinn Hughes was sitting there for the Detroit Red Wings. They opted for Zadina, who has been solid but never the player they envisioned. Often the sixth pick is where things start shifting as teams motor out of the top five. It’s what makes the sixth pick another one difficult to get into. Tkachuk, though now a member of the Panthers is clearly elite. Seider, Drysdale, Edvinsson, and Jiricek will likely be building blocks of their respective teams, with Seider already a major part of Detroit’s improvement.
Like the other two, it’s still going to cost a team if they want to trade up to six.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #6 Since 2015: 0
Finally, there’s a trade. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the Blackhawks. Another look sees a good chunk of very good players here. Provorov, Keller, and Hughes stand out most. Cozens is coming into his own,
But then there’s Andersson, who never settled with the Rangers and hasn’t played well with Los Angeles either. Holtz had trade rumors swirling around him and hasn’t started out as the Devils had hoped. Eklund has only 17 games to his name but held his own with San Jose’s AHL affiliate. Those two are still newer so there’s still time.
The Blackhawks traded up to #7 to get Korchinski in last year’s draft, but it cost them Alex DeBrincat, They also snagged a second round and third round pick in the deal, but there’s the cost. A proven, NHL player who was coming off of a 41-goal season.
Many Chicago fans were incensed with the trade, thinking it to not be enough of a return. Now that DeBrincat is likely being traded out of Ottawa, it looks smarter on Davidson’s part to cash in when he could.
Regardless, the seventh pick would still cost a pretty penny to get back in–unless a first-round pick and a bundle of seconds were enough to entice a team.
But trade scenarios are for another article.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #7 Since 2015: 1
The eighth overall pick sees a split between defense and forwards but the list includes some names Blackhawks fans know. Nylander was dealt to Chicago and didn’t come close to panning out. Boqvist was sent to Columbus in the deal that acquired Seth Jones. So the eighth overall pick might be the spot where it’s becoming more of a roll of the dice. Outside of Werenski and Mittelstadt who has come on in the past season, the others are either not established enough or haven’t produced as hoped.
This is the first slot where there may be a compelling argument to give up a little less.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #8 Since 2015: 0
There are some big names here in the nine spot starting with Meier and Sergachev. The latter was dealt to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin and became a foundational piece. The former was dealt for a haul to New Jersey. Going down the line from there, Rasmussen has rounded out into form for Detroit, and obviously Zegras has been a highlight reel for the Ducks, and the league. The bottom three of Rossi, Guenther, and Savoie all had good seasons in their respective leagues. Kravtsov looks like the only real miss.
This throws cold water on it being easier to pry a pick here for less. Instead, the bad luck at eight might turn out to be an anomaly.
The only other trade in the top ten in the last eight years was for the chance to get Guenther. It was the recently bought out Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland trade to Vancouver that fetched them the ninth overall pick. Arizona took on some contracts, but it goes to show again, they had to give up (at the time) what looked like some significant talent.
Number of Times a Team Has Traded Up to #9 Since 2015: 1
Finally looking at the tenth overall pick, it’s again a hodgepodge. The Avalanche, if looking at their draft through this article, have absolutely killed it without picking in the top three–at least with Rantanen. Tippett was dealt to the Flyers last season but notched 27 goals on a rebuilding squad–definitely a good sign. Bouchard stood out for Edmonton in the playoffs. Podkolzin took a step back while Perfetti held his own with Winnipeg this season.
There’s a better chance here, maybe with a first round pick that’s in the teens along with a high second-round pick that maybe a deal could be made.
Again, that’s an article for another day.
A broad look at how the draft has shaken out for teams by pick shows that it will take significant capital to move up into the top ten. In the Blackhawks’ case, they have a tougher sell in that they’ve already nabbed Bedard at #1. Why would you allow them a crack at getting back into the top ten–unless they’re willing to pay a higher premium to do so.
This is the first of several pieces this week looking at the top ten draft picks. But for those wondering if sneaking back into the top ten would be possible, it certainly looks like that wouldn’t be the case.
If history tells us anything, two trades out of 56 draft slots certainly doesn’t make a compelling case otherwise. So from that type of view, it sure doesn’t seem like the Blackhawks–let alone any team–could find their way back into the top ten unless they’re willing to part with more than they’d like.