The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away on March 21. For the Chicago Blackhawks, there are various directions they could go in as far as trade partners from different teams. As a rebuilding club, the options are there, and there is a dark horse team that can make a perfect fit. Ben Pope, a Blackhawks journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times, reported last week that the Anaheim Ducks are the frontrunners to acquire forward Dominik Kubalik from the Hawks at the trade deadline. (from ‘Blackhawks trade buzz: Marc-Andre Fleury situation remains a conundrum’ – Chicago Sun-Times – 03/11/2022)
The Blackhawks’ supposed asking price is a second-round draft pick. (from ‘Blackhawks trade deadline big board: The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Brandon Hagel and more,’ The AthleticNHL, 03/07/2021), however, I don’t think they’ll just settle for a draft pick. With this in mind, here are a few players from the Ducks that could make sense in a trade package.
The first player that comes to mind from the Ducks is forward Rickard Rackell.
The 28-year-old is in his 10th season with the Ducks, and he is a player whose offensive production has gotten better as seasons go by. His career high in goals in 34 goals from the 2017-18 season. However, his 82-game goal average is 23, while his 82-game points average is 51. By that measure, he finds ways to produce, which would make him a good swap for Blackhawks with Kubalik. He is a top six forward, which is what Kubalik has spent the majority of his time doing in Chicago. Something that stands out about Rackell is that he is noted for being a pure goal-scorer. He is tied for fourth-best on the Ducks in Points-per-game (P/G) with Sonny Milano and Cam Fowler at 0.6 P/G. He also leads the team in shots on goal with 136. The other aspect that stands out is that he is noted for his speed and being able to use it to his advantage with creating chances. This season he has 16 goals, 12 assists, and 28 points in 51 games.
A Kubalik and Rackell trade would look pretty, even considering that Kubalik currently has 11 goals, 10 assists, and 21 points in 60 games. The hurdle with Rackell is that he is a hot commodity going into the trade deadline, with many teams seeking his skillset. He is currently ranked sixth on TSN’s Trade Bait List.
Rackell is on the last year of his six-year, $22.8 million contract. With his cap-hit only being $3.8 million, and set to be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after this season, he would give the Blackhawks a lot of flexibility. It’s a decent cap hit, and he can replace what would be lost with Kubalik. He can certainly slide into a top six role alongside Jonathan Toews on the second line, and he could be a good fit for their second power-play unit. If he turns out not to be a good fit, then the Blackhawks are not stuck with him because of his UFA status. I believe that’s a good risk to take for a player like him.
Isac Lundestrom is a name that is a dark horse, but is someone that could make sense.
Lundestrom is a center that was a first-round pick of the Ducks back in the 2018 NHL Draft. Something that stands out right away is his age. With him being only 22 years old, he is the type of player that is perfect for a rebuild. He could easily grow into the Blackhawks’ system, and like Rackell, he is one that can fix some holes on the roster. This season, he has 14 goals, 12 assists, and 26 points in 60 games with a Face off Percentage (FO%) of 45.4%. For a young player like him, that is pretty good. His 26 points this season are more than anyone on the Blackhawks’ bottom-six, and more than Toews (21) and Kubalik. He is a force on the penalty kill and he leads the Ducks in short-handed goals with four. Considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill is ranked 25th in the league with a success rate of 75.6%, that is appealing. He is another one that skates very well and has a smoothness to his game. It’s not flashy, but it is certainly effective.
Lundestrom flies under the radar because the Ducks have other great prospects in Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish that receive a lot of buzz, yet he is a player that looks to be growing into a solid two-way player. He is a player that I don’t know if Anaheim would want to part with, but considering their other great prospects in the pipeline, I don’t think it’s impossible. The Blackhawks want a high-draft pick for Kubalik, and Lundestrom is one in itself. I could see him fitting seamlessly into Chicago’s bottom-six. With centers like Ryan Carpenter possibly being on the way out at the trade deadline, Lundestrom could be a replacement. He is currently dealing with a lower-body injury and did not join the Ducks on their five-game road trip. Depending on the severity of the injury, that could hurt his trade value, but I still think it’s worth pursuing.
Derek Grant is another option the Blackhawks could explore. A rebuild usually signals younger players in a trade package, but Chicago may also lean towards more established players. Head coach Derek King recently stated, in part, “You need good vets, you need guys that are older. You can’t just throw a young team on the ice.” This is where I think Grant could fit in. He is a 31-year-old forward who spends his time as a center/wing. He is a nine-year NHL veteran who has a pretty consistent rap sheet when it comes to production. He can hit 20+ points a season, with over 14 points in his past four seasons. I think he can be an anchor for the Blackhawks. His FO% is 51%, which is great. With Tyler Johnson facing injuries this season and Dylan Strome’s future with the Blackhawks come the trade deadline in doubt, Grant might be someone who could be a nice fill-in.
Grant can provide some versatility on this roster. If they need him to win a face off, he can easily do that. If they just want him for forward depth to compliment the top-six, he can easily do that too. He is known for playing a solid defensive game, but a player who the Ducks likely want more out of. He may be in a position where a change of scenery is needed and he can be a reliable veteran that coach King was mentioning. The Blackhawks’ bottom-six is very young with players like Henrik Borgstrom, Philipp Kurashev, and MacKenzie Entwistle, whose average age is 22-years-old.
Grant has 8 goals, 7 assists, and 15 points in 54 games this season. He is in the second year of his three-year, $4.5 million dollar contract and will be a UFA after next season. With his cap hit only being $1.5 million, that is very doable for a player like him, and I don’t think it would be a move that would hurt the Blackhawks if they wanted to go in that direction. If the Blackhawks could get multiple draft picks in a trade package for him, I think that would be okay. He’s not a massive points producer, but he can provide intangibles that the team needs. If the Ducks are wanting to move him, they may be willing to part with draft picks.
Overall, the Blackhawks and Ducks are not trading partners that you may instantly think of as they don’t trade with each other often. The last time they were trading partners was back in March 2017. In this case, these two teams can help each other as they are both in the rebuilding stages. The Ducks may be a bit further in their rebuild than the Blackhawks as they were in a playoff spot during the first half of the season, but both teams need help to get over the hump.
According to Pope’s report, the Ducks have been interested in Kubalik for a while now. Although he has struggled this year, he is a proven goal scorer averaging 26 goals a season. Anaheim may finally pull the trigger at the deadline, and if that’s the case, the Blackhawks’ can get essential goal-scoring in return.
Just a small town girl with Midwestern charm; combined with a love of dogs, writing, frappuccinos, Chicago-isms, sports, and a whole lot of Blackhawks hockey. Twitter: @brooke_lofo.