McNeill, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason and could be a logical trade candidate after concluding his entry-level contract. The Hawks have had three-plus years to evaluate the 23-year-old forward, but never really gave him an extended look in the NHL despite holes in the bottom six.
Over the past three seasons, McNeill has spent most of his time playing in the AHL for the Rockford IceHogs. Named an assistant captain for the team last season, he recorded AHL career-highs of 25 goals and 23 assists in 64 regular season games. The forward also had a goal and an assist during the IceHogs' brief three-game playoff run.
McNeill played just one game in a Blackhawks uniform, however, despite the AHL production and pedigree. The Hawks regularly passed him over to get looks at other players, from Dennis Rasmussen to Phillip Danault to Brandon Mashinter, and there have rarely been indications they consider him a major part of their future.
So a trade could make some sense for the Hawks, who might as well try to recoup whatever value they can for McNeill while he's still relatively young and intriguing to other teams. Even if the team doesn't land a draft pick close in value to the one it used to select McNeill five years ago, it makes sense if management doesn't view McNeill as a present or future part of the team.