The Chicago Blackhawks have a whole host of things to do this offseason. Now armed with a full-time GM in Kyle Davidson and a new head coach in Luke Richardson, the Blackhawks could be heading for some turbulent waters over the next few seasons in which this duo will need to lead them through.
Among the items on the to-do list for the Blackhawks is to figure out their goaltending situation. They also need to decide how to handle five different RFA situations in Kirby Dach, Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, Philipp Kurashev and Caleb Jones. Then there’s two legends in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each entering the final seasons of their massive contracts.
We haven’t even gotten to the trade winds surrounding star-winger Alex DeBrincat yet. Under normal circumstances, a 24-year old sniper is not available for trade especially when the Blackhawks still own their rights after this season. But this is not a normal situation.
Setting the Scene
The Blackhawks are heading towards a full rebuild. With the Toews and Kane situations up in the air and a clear signal from management that they’re heading towards a tear down, the team finds themselves in a tough situation with DeBrincat.
DeBrincat’s AAV for the 2022-23 season is $6.4 million. Then he becomes an RFA who has arbitration rights. That means his next deal will have a massive raise, one in which the Blackhawks don’t want to do while in a rebuild.
So DeBrincat trade talks are heating up. From a Blackhawks perspective, it’s tough to trade a player who has averaged 32 goals per season in his first five full seasons in the NHL. On one hand, they’d like to build around a talent like this.
But on the other hand is the financial aspect of this. While DeBrincat’s AAV is $6.4 million, his base salary for 2022-23 is $9 million. That should give you plenty of idea where his next contract is going to go.
If the Blackhawks are going into a full rebuild as things seem to indicate, they can get a king’s ransom in return for DeBrincat in any trade package. The return on this kind of deal could be of more use to the Blackhawks since their rebuild could still be ongoing a few years into his next contract.
This feels like only a matter of time before something goes down. If it does, which five teams make the most logical destinations for DeBrincat?
The Penguins’ situation is well documented. They must decide how things with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang go. If one or both end up walking, the Penguins would need reinforcements. Enter DeBrincat.
Imagine a line of Sidney Crosby playing center with DeBrincat on one side and Jake Guentzel on the other. That’s a winger’s dream scenario.
With the Penguins all-in as long as Crosby is there, adding a sniper like DeBrincat makes sense for them this season and beyond.
Let’s go across Pennsylvania now and check in on the Flyers, who are also treating the offseason like they’re all-in. When it comes to big-name players, the Flyers seem to be in every rumor.
They need star power all throughout their lineup. So it’s no surprise to see the Flyers possibly having some interest here. But would trading the fifth-overall pick at this year’s draft be a possibility? And would Davidson and the Blackhawks consider that piece in trade discussions?
If I’m the Flyers, I’d do whatever it takes to keep the fifth pick especially given who might be available. But if they think DeBrincat is a long-term answer for them, they’ll consider it. They’d need to pay up on his next contract. With John Tortorella in charge, they’re not rebuilding. They’re going to try to load up.
Los Angeles Kings
I can’t imagine a scenario that sees the Los Angeles Kings being done with their offseason despite the Kevin Fiala acquisition. This is a team on the rise who is assembling for consistent playoff appearances starting this season.
If there’s one area the Kings need to fill, it’s scoring wingers. DeBrincat would fit perfectly here. The Kings would also have the assets the Blackhawks would want in return.
The Kings spent years becoming one of the most prolific farm systems. They’re now shifting their focus to using that to their advantage. By the time it’s done, we might have the next great team on our hands. DeBrincat might be a part of it.
Detroit Red Wings
Don’t you just get the feeling that GM Steve Yzerman is up to something? You can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but you just know it’s coming. I feel like the Red Wings are ready to take the next step.
With valuable pieces in place already, they need to add some firepower to go along with their young talent. Cap space is not an issue. Plus most of their current contracts expire within a year or two. The only current regular on the Red Wings with a contract for the 2024-25 season is Robby Fabbri. That leaves plenty of room to add core pieces.
It feels like just a matter of time before the Red Wings shock the hockey world again. Landing DeBrincat would do that. He would also return to his hometown team if a deal went down as he’s from Farmington Hills, MI.
This one depends on how the Evander Kane situation goes. But if he moves on from the Oilers, there’s an opening for a top-flight winger.
How crazy would this be if this deal went down allowing DeBrincat to reunite with Erie Otters’ teammate Connor McDavid? It would be a trade from one set of teammates (Dylan Strome & Taylor Raddysh) to another (McDavid & Warren Foegele should he return.)
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In junior, we spoke to McDavid at length about DeBrincat. All he could say about the winger was how good of a player he was going to be. There’s no question McDavid would approve of this if the opportunity presented itself. It would take a lot to get him. But if it would help McDavid, they’d strongly have to consider it.
The pattern for these teams is pretty obvious. They are either ready to win now or are trying to win now. They each have the cap space necessary if things go a certain way. And DeBrincat would fit in each situation.
The Penguins and Oilers want the Stanley Cup now. The Kings and Red Wings are ready for the next step. And the Flyers need star power. That’s why these five teams make the most logical sense for DeBrincat should a trade happen.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.