Last offseason, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Mikael Hakkarainen. The latter was then placed on unconditional waivers, bought out, and re-signed with the Blackhawks. Thus, they acquired the future Hall of Fame goaltender for nothing in one of the biggest cap dump trades in NHL history.
This is a move that the Golden Knights may be regretting right now. Robin Lehner has reportedly suffered a patella fracture and may miss the remainder of the season. With the team already fighting for a playoff spot, this is a terrifying development for them. Although general manager (GM) Kelly McCrimmon denied Frank Seravalli’s previous report about the team being interested in a Fleury reunion, one has to wonder if that will now change. With their current goaltender tandem, it’s hard to believe that they can make a push for the Stanley Cup.
At this point all signs point to Robin Lehner’s latest injury being a significant one.— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) March 17, 2022
I hesitate to put a timeline on it, because of the uncertainty, but it’s very possible he misses the rest of the regular season.
After all of this, the possibility of Fleury being traded back there appears to be present. Let’s go over some trade targets that the Blackhawks could consider.
Logan Thompson could be an appealing goaltender for the Blackhawks to get back in a Fleury trade. The 25-year-old has been spectacular in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Henderson Silver Knights over the last two seasons. In 50 career AHL appearances, he has a 29-16-5 record, 2.44 goals-against average (GAA), and a .929 save percentage (SV%). Those are impressive numbers, and he rightfully has become the team’s third-string goaltender in the process.
Thompson has appeared in five games with the Golden Knights this season and has mixed results. In total, he has a 2-2-0 record, 3.44 GAA, and .897 SV%. The sample size is too small to cast any significant judgment on the rookie, however. If acquired by the Blackhawks in a Fleury swap, he would have the opportunity to play more regularly, too. Overall, with the team rebuilding, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to take a chance on a goalie who has played so well in the minors.
Pierre LeBrun recently reported that the Blackhawks are seeking either a first-round pick or first-round level prospect and a mid-round pick in any trade centering around Fleury. When it comes to a prospect who fits that description, it’s hard not to immediately think of Zach Dean. The Golden Knights selected him with the 30th overall pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and he is viewed as possessing the potential to become a top-six center. Naturally, this should get the attention of Chicago.
What I think an asking price would look like from Chicago in a Fleury trade: 1st RD pick (or 1st RD level prospect) and maybe a mid-round pick. The second pick likely depends on whether the Hawks need to take back a contract and how bad that contract is.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2022
But key is: 1st RD pick.
Dean is currently playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Gatineau Olympiques. In 28 games with the team, he has 12 goals, 22 assists, and 34 penalty minutes. With these numbers, he is over a point-per-game for the first in his junior career. He also has become well-known for his fantastic stickhandling and quick speed. If he continues to develop at this pace, he could fit beautifully into the Blackhawks’ top-six down the road.
Kaedan Korczak is another Golden Knights prospect who is viewed as having a good amount of potential. Although he was selected in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he has built his value up because of how well he is developing in the AHL. In 28 games with the Silver Knights, he has one goal and five assists. Although one may not be impressed by those totals, it’s key to note that he is more regarded for his strong defensive play and immense degree of physicality. In other words, he has the tools to blossom into a top-four, shutdown defenseman.
Although Korczak is known for his defense-first style of play, he also has been praised by scouts for his quick speed. That is a very nice combination for a 6-foot-4 defenseman to possess. His sample size at the NHL level is too small to judge, as the 21-year-old has played in only one game this season and sported a plus-1 rating. However, if acquired by a rebuilding team like the Blackhawks, it could give him the chance to play bottom-pair minutes immediately. With all of this, he is one of Vegas’ most appealing prospects.
Ivan Morozov is another forward prospect who could be an interesting addition to the Blackhawks’ roster. The 2018 second-round pick had a breakout campaign with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) last season. In 55 games, he scored 13 goals and had 31 total points. This season he has cooled off a little bit, though, as he has only five goals and six assists in 22 games. Even with this being the case, he is still producing well for a 21-year-old winger in the KHL and should eventually get his production up again.
Although he is right-handed, Morozov prefers to play on his off-wing. This certainly should help gain more interest from the Blackhawks as Dominik Kubalik’s future with the team is in jeopardy. Furthermore, Brandon Hagel has come up in the rumor mill, too, but a trade involving him seems less likely. However, even with this being the case, left wing could become a position that the team will need to focus on during their rebuild.
Nevertheless, if the Blackhawks send Fleury back to the Golden Knights before the deadline, it will automatically be a major win for them. They acquired him for nothing and now could land themselves free assets due to Lehner’s potential long-term injury. We will have to wait and see if it come to fruition.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.