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Blackhawks should sell high on Max Domi by the trade deadline

And we’ll tell you why.

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images

Now that some of the dust is starting to settle from Tuesday’s massive trade, it’s time to look around the room at whatever’s left from this season’s Chicago Blackhawks roster and see if there’s anything else to be moved before Friday’s trade deadline.

Oh, look, over there: it’s forward Max Domi!

Domi was brought in last summer on a one-year deal, which certainly looked like the type of contract that would be given to a veteran player with the anticipation that he’d be flipped at the deadline for picks and/or prospects, in line with the ultimate goal of this season.

But there have been some rumblings suggesting otherwise, and goalie-turned-insider Kevin Weekes mentioned those rumblings in a tweet on Wednesday:

He’s impressed this season, has he? Well, about that ...

Domi’s numbers this season are more pyrite than prophetic, more a result of the dire circumstances of the Blackhawks this season than any sort of major step forward in his career.

Through 60 games, Domi’s put up a solid 49 points (18 G, 31 A) — good for a 67-point pace (25 G, 42 A) over an 82-game schedule. All those numbers are mildly below his career-best marks from the 2018-19 season, when Domi had 72 points (28 G, 44 A) in 82 games with the Montreal Canadiens. To be fair to Domi, his numbers this season are still decent for a top-six forward.

But a deeper examination of those numbers reveals the shaky foundation upon which they stand. Start with the fact that Domi is averaging 3:23 of power-play ice time, which is the highest mark of his career. That much ice time with the man advantage has given Domi a new career-high in power-play goals (8) and tied his career-high in assists (10), with 22 games still to be played this season.

Focus on the 5-on-5 numbers for Domi, and the picture becomes clearer. The screenshot below comes from Natural Stat Trick and offers a season-by-season comparison of Domi’s production, focusing on the rates of production to account for the variance in ice time between seasons. Notice that the present season (in bold at the bottom) shows no indication that Domi is faring better at 5-on-5 hockey this season than he has at any other point in his career.

For comparison’s sake, here are the numbers from a player who was on the Blackhawks last season but not this season and had 48 points (22 G, 26 A) in a nice 69 games — a pace of 57 points (26 G, 31 A) in an 82-game schedule that isn’t far from Domi’s current trajectory:

Those are Dylan Strome’s numbers.

Strome had the lead in goals, Domi had the lead in assists and Strome had the mild lead in points. The quality of linemates is not a significant factor here, either. Domi has been on the ice with Patrick Kane for 591:31 of his 854:18 of ice time, a roughly 70 percent share of his 5-on-5 play this season. As for Strome last season? He skated 204:37 of his 977:52 of 5-on-5 ice time last season with neither Kane nor Alex DeBrincat as one of his linemates, which means that he had one or both of those players as his linemates for about 80 percent of the season. Strome gets a mild advantage there, but that 10 percent difference doesn’t seem like enough to distort these figures one way or the other.

The overall point here is that Domi has not accomplished anything this season that can be considered vastly superior to a player from last season who was allowed to walk in free agency — and Strome is two years younger than Domi.

By Friday, the Blackhawks should find a suitor for Domi and add another pick or prospect — or both! — in return as a means of stockpiling the assets as part of the long-term plan in place here. If a trade doesn’t materialize, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to throw another 1-year deal at Domi to see if he could be flipped for something at the 2024 trade deadline.

If there wasn’t a place for Strome in this rebuild, then there shouldn’t be one for Domi, either. Best to sell high on Domi now, just in case his numbers take a step backwards in the future. And if the Hawks like him as much as some reports are suggesting, Domi would be an unrestricted free agent this summer.