With the Stanley Cup Final completed, the attention of the hockey world has now shifted to the offseason.
In addition to the draft and the opening of free agency, the trade market is about to heat up for the first time since last season’s deadline.
There are several big names in play this summer including J.T. Miller, Kevin Fiala and Jakob Chychrun. But the most intriguing name in the mix might be Alex DeBrincat, the young Blackhawks star who has suddenly found himself the subject of trade rumors.
In an ideal world, there would be 31 NHL teams lined up to take a run at DeBrincat, given his age and productivity. But the field of contenders will be a lot smaller, considering not every team has the ability to absorb DeBrincat’s salary — or give up the requisite draft picks or prospects to make this a reality.
But the Ottawa Senators could certainly fit the bill on both fronts.
Considering Pierre Dorion has made it clear that he intends to upgrade his roster this summer, there could be a potential fit between the Senators and Blackhawks.
In this column, we’ll explore a potential DeBrincat-to-Ottawa trade with perspectives from both sides.
Why the Blackhawks would want to trade DeBrincat
There are two ways of thinking surrounding DeBrincat’s future with the Blackhawks. One, he seems like the ideal player to build around. He’s still just 24 years and likely has many more 40-goal seasons ahead of him. He also seems to be on board with the organization’s rebuilding plan.
The second is that DeBrincat is only slowing the Blackhawks down by sticking around for the next three to four years. His production and contract, which he’s due for another after next season, are detrimental to a team looking to maximize cap space and trying to tank in the short term. The Blackhawks may want someone like DeBrincat again in the coming years, but not now.
It sounds like the Blackhawks hockey ops are aligning themselves with the latter way of thinking. General manager Kyle Davidson witnessed how his predecessor Stan Bowman never fully committed to a rebuild and it’s largely why the Blackhawks haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, aren’t anywhere close to doing so and their prospect pipeline is as depleted as it has been in the last 20 years. A complete teardown may have been avoidable if things had been done differently, but it now may be the only path back to success.