With the Chicago Blackhawks being in a full-on rebuild, they are in a position to acquire young players who could use a change of scenery. As a result, one team that general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson should consider doing business with is the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have three specific players who are victims of Tampa Bay’s excellent depth, and the Blackhawks would be wise to pursue them because of it. Let’s take a look at each of them now.
When the Lightning drafted Cal Foote with the 17th-overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, they believed that they were getting a long-term, top-four defenseman. Yet, due to Tampa Bay’s strong defensive depth, the 23-year-old has had trouble carving himself a notable role in their lineup. With that, the Denver native has also been a healthy scratch multiple times this campaign and has mainly played bottom-pairing minutes when called upon. This makes me wonder if the Lightning would be open to moving Foote to give him a better shot elsewhere.
Foote is exactly the kind of young player who the Blackhawks should consider pursuing. Although he has yet to blossom into a high-impact defensive defenseman, there is still time for him to change that. If the Blackhawks were to acquire him, he would easily fit on their bottom pairing at a minimum. However, if a veteran like Connor Murphy ends up being dealt, it would open the door for Foote to receive top-four minutes. With that, Foote would be guaranteed penalty-kill time because of his defense-first nature.
To acquire Foote, it would likely cost the Lightning at least a third-round pick and prospect. When noting that Foote still has decent upside, it certainly would make sense for the Blackhawks to add him to their rebuild. At worst, he would be a serviceable bottom-pairing defenseman, but if he hits his full potential, he could be a part of their top four for several years to come.
Could the Blackhawks reunite the Raddysh brothers? After all, Darren Raddysh has been lighting up the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, as he has eight goals and 30 points in only 21 games. This is impeccable offense from the point, but Raddysh remains with the Syracuse Crunch because of Tampa Bay’s strong right side. As a way to give him more chances at the NHL level, it seems possible that the Lightning would be open to moving the 6-foot-1 defenseman. In this scenario, Chicago would be wise to make a push for him.
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Similar to Foote, Raddysh would be able to compete for a spot on the Blackhawks’ bottom pairing if acquired. Even if the Blackhawks opted to utilize Ian Mitchell over him, Raddysh would still be a strong seventh defenseman option. With that, his ability to create offense from the point would certainly lead Chicago to give some opportunities on the power play.
With Raddysh only having four career NHL games on his resume, it is fair to assume that he could be had for a very cheap price. Perhaps a sixth-round pick would be enough for the Lightning to part ways with the 26-year-old. Ultimately, I believe it would be wise for the Blackhawks to take a chance on Raddysh. If his outstanding offense at the AHL level could translate over a bit to the NHL, he would be a very solid addition to the rebuilding Blackhawks.
Another Lightning player who would make a lot of sense for the Blackhawks is Alex Barre-Boulet. Similar to Raddysh, Barre-Boulet has been dominating the AHL, but he also has not been given too many chances at the NHL level. In 20 games this season with the Crunch, the 25-year-old forward has nine goals and 29 points in only 20 games. This comes after the Montmagny native recorded a 63-point campaign in 58 games for Syracuse last season. Needless to say, he is excellent at the AHL level, so maybe Davidson would be open to bringing him in.
On the Blackhawks, Barre-Boulet would have a legitimate shot of receiving a full-time NHL role. When noting that he can play center and left wing, it is fair to argue that he would fit on their third line. He could force a player like Jujhar Khaira or MacKenzie Entwistle to drop to the fourth line and provide a bit more offense in the process. With that, he would certainly work well on their second power-play unit due to his excellent playmaking ability.
Barre-Boulet is another AHL player that could likely be had for a rather cheap price. A sixth-round pick seems like a legitimate asking price from the Lightning, and Chicago would have no trouble matching it. This move would have the potential to benefit Barre-Boulet, as it would finally give him the opportunity of a full-time NHL role. This, in turn, could help him find his scoring touch at the NHL level.
Nevertheless, it is rather clear that the Blackhawks have some intriguing trade targets from the Lightning. Foote would be the biggest splash out of the trio, but it also could benefit the Blackhawks to take a chance on two AHL stars like Raddysh and Barre-Boulet. Alas, we will have to wait and see if the 2015 Stanley Cup Final opponents end up striking a deal before the 2023 Trade Deadline passes.