Blackhawks should avoid trading Alex DeBrincat this season

It will be a long time before the Chicago Blackhawks are competitive again. With the team continuing to rebuild, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some fan favorites leaving the club this summer and into next season. For fans of the Blackhawks, it’s clear at this point that winning isn’t a priority at the moment so much as being developed for the future with potential trades and upcoming drafts.

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For this reason, trading star Alex DeBrincat makes a lot of sense. He’s a proven scorer with 40 goals, and at just 24 years old he is the most attractive commercial target in Chicago. However, while the deal may sound tempting, DeBrincat is exactly the kind of player Blackhawks General (GM) Kyle Davidson should keep and build around – at least for now.

Rebuilding can be difficult and painful. For the Black Hawks, specifically, it seems like it’s long overdue. However, that doesn’t mean everyone trades, including DeBrincat.

DeBrincat brings leadership, star power and skill

You could argue that the Blackhawks don’t need a DeBrincat right now, given the overall state of the team. He has a year left on his current contract with an average annual (AAV) of $6.4 million, so he’ll be due a raise next summer when he becomes a Restricted Free Agent (RFA), money Chicago could invest elsewhere.

However, the current contracts of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toyos will be off the books after that. It’s almost certain that both players, even Kane, will need to take their paychecks if they want to stay for the long haul. While it may seem contrary to Chicago’s goal of rebuilding, why not invest some of that money in DeBrincat? Unlike Kane and the Toews, DeBrincat is still young enough to play a key role in the Blackhawks’ next competitive club.

Arguably DeBrincat doesn’t have much to prove that he’s in his mid-twenties, a top scorer of over 40. He’s also a bona fide leader, and despite being only 5-foot-7, he earned an “A” last season as one of Chicago’s three alternate leaders. Over the past few years, he has found his voice in the locker room and could be the perfect guide for the team’s next wave of youth as he appears to have been convinced of the Black Hawks’ long-term goals.

Alex DeBrinkat, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvine/The Hockey Book)

Most importantly, DeBrincat is an acclaimed superstar. While you don’t need stars to rebuild, it’s one of the few things the Blackhawks are sure to have on their list right now, along with Kane and Seth Jones. Players like Kirby Dach, Taylor Raddysh, Lukas Reichel and others have shown potential, but they are far from proven good. From his personality to his social media presence, he’s also a marketable asset and can still drive fans to the United Center even if an on-ice product doesn’t work out.

If DeBrincat goes, fans shouldn’t automatically panic, and it makes sense why the Blackhawks might try to move him. However, given his age and potential, it is best to build around him for the future.

Returning may not be worth it

No matter what the Blackhawks receive if they deal with a DeBrincat, there is no guarantee that it will be as successful or as good as it is. While this applies to nearly every trade, it is something Davidson should keep in mind, given the age and performance of the DeBrincat so far. He’s a key component of the team at the moment and he can still go forward.

Now, of course, risks can bring rewards. As Mark Lazeros the athlete Discussed, when the Colorado Avalanche dealt with Matt Duchene in 2017, he brought them Sam Gerrard and the 2019 first-round pick, which became Bowen Byram (from ‘Trading Alex DeBrincat would be shortsighted madness by the Chicago Blackhawks,'” the athlete06/14/22). This is a great value, but the Duchene was also a few years older than the DeBrincat at the time. Nor did he bring the same level of star power to Colorado that DeBrincat brought to Chicago.

Another possible comparison is the Jack Eichel trade, from which the Buffalo Sabers are touched by Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, 2022 in the first round and 2023 in the second round. But, with all due respect to DeBrinkat, it’s no Eshel, who has shown flashes of being a talent for generations. That kind of payoff may be unrealistic for Chicago, and for as many results as the team can achieve while rebuilding, there can be many errors. Just take a look at the time the Edmonton Oilers dealt Taylor Hall with the New Jersey Devils in 2016 – who was 24 at the time, the age of the DeBrincat. This trade looks pretty ugly for Edmonton now even though it’s back in importance.

Alex DeBrinkat, Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrinkat, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Book)

When it comes to potential trades during the rebuilding of Chicago, I don’t expect every trade to be a winner – that’s very unrealistic. Although some of Davidson’s early moves, like dealing with Brandon Hagel at Tampa Bay Lightning, look pretty strong so far, DeBrincat’s potential trade will be different due to his stellar power. There’s a very good chance that nothing Chicago gets into his deal will equal his long-term success.

Take the idea of ​​DeBrincat trading the Devils for the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft, for example. While it’s understandable that Davidson wants a first-round pick this year because the Blackhawks don’t currently have one, who knows what that player will become?

There’s no doubt that Juraj Slafkovsky, Logan Cooley or even Shane Wright – all three of them could finish second overall – would be a great resource for Chicago, but the jury is still out on their NHL jobs. Furthermore, two of the last five picks in second place – Nolan Patrick and Kabo Kaku – have been somewhat underwhelmed thus far at the NHL level. Top prospects aren’t sure of things.

If the DeBrincat was a little older, I would be more open to potential trade. For now though, he’s a proven commodity and should remain a part of the team’s future. Regardless of the payoff, trade can do more harm to Chicago than it can help.

The Blackhawks can still rebuild while keeping the DeBrincat

There are plenty of reasons why trading DeBrincat makes perfect sense for the Blackhawks, and I don’t necessarily think Chicago should stick with it at all costs. It will probably now be his highest turnover ever, especially before it’s time to ramp up the raise next season. However, the Blackhawks can still successfully perform their rebuild even if they keep it. From drafts to other potential deals to free agent engagements, Chicago has many opportunities to build from the ground up, and they are in no hurry to do so.

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Rebuilding is not easy. Depending on how long it takes to rebuild the Blackhawks, there may come a point when trading DeBrincat makes sense, similar to what happened when Sabers and Eichel broke up last year. This time is not now, though. Chicago should view DeBrincat as a pivot going forward, given how few resources it currently has.

If the Blackhawks DeBrincat move, so be it. Of course, part of rebuilding is finding value from existing assets. For now, however, keeping DeBrincat should be the path that Davidson and the Black Hawks take as he is a young elite star and can still make a difference in the future.

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