Blackhawks trade grades: Evaluating every move Kyle Davidson made

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson may never have a trade deadline like this again.

First, he likely won’t need to trade a franchise icon anytime in the near future. Imagine if he had had to change two of them.

All in all, Davidson made nine trades. The biggest names he traded away were Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty and Jack Johnson. What he brought in was mostly draft picks. Note that he added a first-round pick, a conditional second-round pick (which could become a first), and three second-round picks.

From the first trade to the last, here’s how we grade Davidson for each deal before this season’s trade deadline.

1. Patrick Kane (50 percent retained) and Cooper Zech to the Rangers for a conditional 2023 second-round draft pick, 2025 fourth-round pick and Andy Welinski. The Blackhawks also acquire Vili Saarijarvi from the Coyotes.

Powers: I know people are hung up on the Blackhawks not getting enough for Kane, but honestly I’m surprised they got that much. Rangers general manager Chris Drury knew the corner Davidson was in, and Drury could have made this much worse for Davidson and the Blackhawks. Can you imagine if this trade was only for a third or fourth rounder? Maybe some of it was Drury’s respect for Kane, but that’s the return I expected when it came down to just one team. B

Lazerus: Objectively, this is a terrible return for arguably the greatest player in franchise history, one who is less than a year removed from a 92-point season and had seven goals and three assists in his last four games for the Blackhawks. Hip schmip. But we all know the context here and how little influence Davidson had. Davidson accomplished two important things: He managed to get the opportunity for a first-rounder (it will be a first-rounder in 2024 or 2025 if the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Finals) and he showed every future free agent in the league that he wants to do you right. That last part is key and can pay off when it’s time to start adding talent again. B-minus

2. Sam Lafferty, Jake McCabe (50 percent retained), a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick and a conditional 2025 fifth-round pick to the Maple Leafs for a conditional 2025 first-round pick, a 2026 second-round pick, Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev

Lazerus: This was a neat case by Davidson. Lafferty is a utility player whose play should translate well to the postseason, and McCabe is a nice second pairing that brings a little snarl to the Leafs. But neither was likely to bring back a first-rounder on their own, even with Davidson retaining salary on McCabe. Packing them, Davidson got the first. And that’s all that matters in this whole exercise: picking up first-timers. This one isn’t until 2025, and the hope then is that the Blackhawks will be far enough along that they can be the ones to use it as a trade piece to bolster their roster for a playoff run. A-minus

Powers: If you had told the Blackhawks before the season that they would be getting first and second round picks for Lafferty and McCabe, they probably wouldn’t have believed you. I mean, the Blackhawks were offered a late-round pick for Lafferty at the deadline last season. Even this season, there were teams looking to add McCabe at a very low price. Sure, Lafferty and McCabe played into another level, but this feels like Davidson’s best move yet, being able to package them together for higher picks. ONE

3. Jack Johnson to the avalanche for Andreas Englund

Lazerus: Englund is 27, so he may not fit the long-term plans in Chicago. But he had a nice season in Colorado, finally establishing himself as a bonafide NHLer. Getting anything more than a seventh-round or future consideration for Johnson — a great guy who had an all-time terrible season — was pretty surprising. But this was more about doing right by Johnson, who was a consummate professional in his short time in Chicago. This trade means virtually nothing in the long run. It was a favor. B

Powers: The Blackhawks did a good thing for Johnson. I don’t see Englund in the Blackhawks’ future. C

4. Josiah Slavin to Ducks for Hunter Drew

Powers: This felt like another move where Davidson did right by a player. Slavin probably didn’t have a future with the Blackhawks, but maybe he could somewhere else. I also don’t expect Drew to be a part of the future. C

Lazerus: There was a brief stint last season where Slavin looked like a future Marcus Kruger — a penalty-killing, fourth-line loss. So much for that. Nothing to see here. C

5. Future considerations to the Senators for Nikita Zaitsev, a 2023 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick

Lazerus: This is how you do it when you rebuild – you sell the cap space to the highest bidder. Ottawa needed to clear cap space to acquire Jakob Chychrun, and Chicago had cap space to spare. Zaitsev, signed through next season for $4.5 million, helps the Blackhawks get to the top floor and gives them a veteran hot body on the back end as their prospects continue to develop. And the Blackhawks get two draft picks, including a second-rounder, for their trouble. Well done. ONE

Powers: This is definitely the best use of the Blackhawks’ cap space. What I am curious about, however, is how Zaitsev fits the Blackhawks next season. I could see a situation where Alex Vlasic and Kevin Korchinski are in the lineup next season. I thought the way McCabe played, it made sense to keep someone like him around to play with the younger defenders. Zaitsev hasn’t performed that well in recent years, which is obviously why he’s been traded twice since signing his current contract. B

6. Future considerations for the Sabers for forward Anders Bjork

Powers: “Future considerations” have been a nice asset for the Blackhawks at the deadline. Sorry. The Blackhawks brought in Bjork to fill a roster spot at the NHL level today and potentially join the IceHogs for their playoff push down the road. The IceHogs have lost a lot of their players to the NHL lately due to trades and injuries, and this should help fix that problem. Bjork also played for IceHogs coach Anders Sørensen at the Chicago Mission growing up. B

Lazerus: I mean, sure, yeah. Anders Bjork. OK. C

7. Dylan Sikura to Ducks for Maxim Golod. In connection with that deal, the Rockford IceHogs sent future considerations to the San Diego Gulls for Rocco Grimaldi and Logan Nijhof.

Powers: The Blackhawks made this trade to bolster their IceHogs lineup for a playoff run. Sikura has been good this season, but he has not been as dominant in the AHL as in the past. In Grimaldi, who is on an AHL contract, the IceHogs receive one of the AHL’s top producers. He is tied for 27 goals in the league. This should help the IceHogs’ offense. ONE

Lazerus: Anything that makes the IceHogs better is a smart move at this point. The Blackhawks would much rather their younger players play meaningful games in the AHL than meaningless games in the NHL. Hey, remember when Stan Bowman considered Sikura the Blackhawks’ big deadline acquisition five years ago? Ah, good times. A-minus

8. Max Domi and Dylan Wells to the Dallas Stars for a 2025 second-rounder and Anton Khudobin.

Lazerus: I like how Davidson has spread out the amount of draft picks he’s gotten. Instead of only having six or seven second-rounders in 2023, he has four this year, then two each of the following three years. Not only does that help protect against having all the prospects on a similar timeline (which would mean they all need a raise at the same time), but it also gives him draft capital down the road that can be used to acquire players at the deadline if and when the Blackhawks emerge from the rebuild as contenders again. Wishful thinking? May be. But that’s the idea. I suspect Domi will be back next season as well. He has been nomadic for years and seemed very comfortable in Chicago. And he’s very much a Luke Richardson-style player. B-plus

Powers: This trade made sense in the big picture, but I think there is a slim chance if the Blackhawks want to re-sign Domi. No one is saying that Domi doesn’t fall in love with the stars and vice versa. This is how it went with the Blackhawks this season. The Stars are probably the more attractive team in the short term as well. Still, the Blackhawks got a second-round pick for Domi, and that was the plan all along. He picked up much less at the deadline last year. ONE

9. Future considerations to Kings for Austin Wagner.

Powers: Wagner is another addition for the IceHogs. He also has an expiring contract. There has been a trend with the Blackhawks’ moves. I didn’t expect to grade so many AHL moves. B

Lazerus: Well, no one can argue that the Blackhawks aren’t considering the future after this deadline. B

(Top image of Patrick Kane and Max Domi: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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