Believe it or not, folks: we may actually have a pair of segments with an overall positive theme to them this week.
Let’s start with Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson.
Watching Jason Dickinson put together a solid outing in the No. 1 center spot on Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks led to a stroll down CapFriendly’s trade history for the Blackhawks. And that stroll led to the following hypothesis: Davidson has a pretty good track record in the trade market since taking over as Blackhawks GM.
Here are some of deals that feel like pretty healthy victories for the Blackhawks:
- Acquiring Sam Lafferty for Alex Nylander
- Acquiring Jason Dickinson and a second-round pick for Riley Stillman
- Acquiring Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk and two first-round picks for Brandon Hagel (even if those picks are late in the first round)
A few other trades on the list felt like, at least, adequate compensation:
- Acquiring a No. 13 overall first-round pick (which become Frank Nazar) and a third-round pick (which became Gavin Hayes) for Kirby Dach
- Acquiring a second-round pick (which became Ryan Greene) for Marc-Andre Fleury
- Turning a second-round pick into a first-round pick (which became Sam Rinzel) by taking Petr Mrazek’s contract on from the Toronto Maple Leafs
Also: I’d argue that the Alex DeBrincat trade is closer to the “adequate compensation” category than may have been initially thought when factoring in that DeBrincat had just one season remaining on his contract at the time of the trade and will likely require a significant raise for his next deal, which did have a detrimental effect on trade talks. But a first (which became Kevin Korchinski) a second (which became Paul Ludwinski) and a future third doesn’t seem like too bad of a deal, does it? Even if it’s chalked up as a small Blackhawks loss, it can easily be offset by the other trades listed above.
There are certainly far more areas where Davidson will need to be just as successful if he’s going to steer this ship in the right direction following this season’s plummet to the bottom, but the overall success from this significant part of the GM equation feels like a decent place to start piling up some Ws.
Just keep ‘em coming, Kyle.
The Week That Was
Tuesday, Feb. 7: Ducks 3, Blackhawks 2
Don’t think there’s been another occasion this season where it felt like the Hawks outplayed their opponent and still ended up losing. It’s also not a feeling that’s expected to return until next season.
A Torch to End All Torches
There was a real good story from Ben Pope of the Sun-Times that may have been lost in the shuffle while the Blackhawks were on their bye week. It detailed the transformation of the Blackhawks’ penalty kill unit in the last few months, ignited by a change in the shape of said penalty kill:
Keep an eye out tonight for the Blackhawks' diamond penalty kill formation, which has seriously rejuvenated that unit since Christmas: https://t.co/JXUCC6mVvU— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 7, 2023
More details on what that change meant and how it’s improved the PK’s play are in that story which you should absolutely click on and read through in the interest of supporting quality local journalism. But another takeaway from this development can focus on the man behind the Blackhawks bench: coach Luke Richardson. So many aspects of this season are barely worth deeper analysis because this roster was not constructed to win hockey games and there’s only so much a coach can do when he’s handcuffed by the players at his disposal. But Richardson and his staff identified a weakness on the team, decided to try something different and his team has improved because of it — sort of the entire point of a coach, eh?
It’s a small sample and drawing too large of a conclusion from it seems foolish, but in a season with virtually nothing to point to as a reason for long-term optimism, we can chalk up this storyline as a Blackhawks win.
The Week That Will Be
Friday, Feb. 10 vs. Arizona Coyotes
Before the season started, this seemed like it was going to be a pivotal game for the bottom of the league standings. Now? Arizona seems just good enough to be 28th or 29th in the league instead of 32nd.
Saturday, Feb. 11 at Winnipeg Jets
The Blackhawks play Friday, then have to hop on a plane to Winnipeg and face the Jets the next night? This one has bad news written all over it.