Just like that, the chaos has begun, Kyle Davidson has made his first deadline move, and it’s a blockbuster! The first thing that Blackhawks fans should take away from this is Stan Bowman is no longer steering the ship. Davidson said he would rebuild this team, and that is exactly what his first move was, not trading for an ex Hawk hoping they find a spark they once had. This move makes it clear the Blackhawks are going to get worse before it gets better. Davidson has a plan, and he will not deviate from the plan. The Blackhawks finally have a direction they are heading in.
Kyle Davidson is sending Brandon Hagel, 2022 4th-round pick, and 2023 4th-round pick to the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in exchange for 2023 1st-round pick, 2024 1st-round pick Boris Katchouk, and Taylor Raddysh (both picks are top 10 protected, not like that will matter with Tampa’s track record). This massive return for a player who was unsigned by buffalo and left on the streets for the Blackhawks to sign.
Breaking down and grading the trade from the Blackhawks side:
It will be tough for Blackhawks fans to watch Hagel as he goes on a deep playoff run with Tampa, scoring big goals and becoming a fan favorite on his new team. But this is what had to happen. It was reported that the Blackhawks wouldn’t trade Hagel unless it was a package they couldn’t resist, and that’s what this was. Davidson, with one move, was able to change the whole outlook of the upcoming rebuild and potentially speed the rebuild up by years. Getting not one but two first-round picks was the key to this trade. Now, these picks will be closer to the second round than they will the lottery, but they a first-round picks non the less. The Blackhawks don’t have much as far as prospects after Lukas Reichel, and without a first in this year’s draft, the future was looking pretty bleak until now. Hopefully, Davidson revamps the scouting department, and the Blackhawks can cash in on these picks and get a few key players for the future.
Davidson was also able to secure two younger NHL players in the deal. The first player in this deal is Boris Katchouk, who was originally drafted by the Lightning in the second-round 44th overall in 2016. Katchouk is the player I’ll be keeping an eye on in this deal. He made his debut this season and since then has played in thirty-eight games and has two goals and four assists with a plus-minus of +3. At the age of 23, he still has little room to grow and turn into a top-nine forward for the Blackhawks in the future. Katchouk fills one of the many holes the Blackhawks have in the bottom six. Katchouk has two years left after this season at $758,333 AAV.
The second player headed from the Sunshine State to the Windy City is Taylor Raddysh. His intriguing as he once put up 42 goals and 67 assists playing for the Erie Otters, his linemates that season no other than Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. Now I’m not saying Raddysh is going to come over to Chicago and be a point per game, and he won’t be anything close to that. Just like Katchouk, Raddysh is in his rookie season. He has played in fifty-three games with five goals and seven assists on the year. A reunion could be what is needed to unlock the offense that Raddysh once had. Raddysh is slightly older at twenty-four years old. He also brings size to the bottom of the lineup, coming in at 6’4″. Raddysh was originally selected 58th overall in the 2016 NHL draft.
Going into the deadline with the youngest GM in the NHL was nerve-wracking, but Hawks fans can breathe. Davidson showed that he can negotiate with the other general managers. This trade was a statement trade, Davidson just announced to the league he would not be bullied, and the Blackhawks will no longer get fleeced in trades. Davidson made the tough but right choice and moved on from a young player that was loved by the fans and his teammates for the betterment of the team and its future. Getting two first and two NHL players that will help improve the bottom six of your team is a win-win. This is one of the few trades that both teams win. Tampa got an amazing high-energy player that can play up and down the lineup and is locked up for two more seasons at a low AAV, and the Blackhawks got a massive hull that will help speed the rebuild up. This could be the trade that Hawks fans look back on and say that was the moment the franchise got back on track to the top.