Although the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils both missed the playoffs this season, it is clear that they are heading in different directions. The former has officially begun its rebuild, while the latter appears to be nearing the final stages of its own.
With this, these two clubs have the potential of becoming trade partners this summer. There’s reason to believe that they could even produce an offseason blockbuster. Let’s now look at why this is the case.
Devils Open to Trading Second-Overall Pick
While on Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Devils are considering the possibility of trading the second-overall pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The Devils have had a lot of luck in recent years at the Draft Lottery, as they have landed two first-overall picks in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. However, after making the playoffs just once in the last 10 years, it makes sense that general manager (GM) Tom Fitzgerald is open to the idea of moving this year’s pick. However, a team will need to offer a high-impact player for a deal to have any chance of coming to fruition.
With the Blackhawks rebuilding, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pursue a move for the second-overall pick. Due to the Seth Jones trade last summer, they lost their first-round pick for this year to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Furthermore, with the Minnesota Wild falling to the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks will not be receiving a conditional first-rounder from the Marc-Andre Fleury trade. With all of this, GM Kyle Davidson recently made it known that the club is looking to get back into the first round.
Davidson has made it clear that he is willing to trade important players if he feels that it will help with the team’s rebuild. The Brandon Hagel trade this deadline season was the biggest indicator of that, as he landed two first-round picks (2023 and 2024) from the Tampa Bay Lightning in that blockbuster. With so many of their other players in the rumor mill, perhaps the Blackhawks could be able to muster up an offer to land that highly-coveted second-overall pick.
Blackhawks’ Rebuild Could Lead to Star Being Traded
The Blackhawks have a major decision to make when it comes to Alex DeBrincat and his future with the club. In an ideal world, they would love to keep the 24-year-old winger around for the rebuild. Yet, he is also entering the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent (RFA) once it expires. Although the Blackhawks will still have control over his rights, he is also getting closer to his unrestricted free agent (UFA) eligibility. Thus, if extension talks occur this summer and he’s only open to a short-term extension, they may feel forced to move him.
DeBrincat’s name has also already been in the rumor mill too. According to Frank Seravalli, Davidson listened to offers for the star winger during the regular season. Although a blockbuster centering around him did not come to fruition, one has to wonder if this will be explored again during the summer. After the Hagel trade, it is clear that he isn’t afraid to trade young players, and DeBrincat still fits that description.
If DeBrincat is officially made available, it seems very likely that the Devils would target him. When looking at their roster, it’s apparent that they are very solid down the middle but are in desperate need of an elite scoring winger. Adding him would finally give them just that.
Potential Blockbuster Between the Teams
Any trade involving DeBrincat and the Devils’ second-overall pick would be a massive one. The Devils would be acquiring a 40-goal scorer in his prime who would strengthen their forward group immensely. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, would be landing themselves a top prospect who would have the potential to become a major part of their core for years to come. Yet, if Chicago were to part ways with DeBrincat, the Devils would need to give up more than just the second-overall pick.
DeBrincat has already established himself as a star in this league, and his 2021-22 campaign shows that perfectly. In 82 games, he scored an impressive 41 goals and 78 total points. Placing a goal-scorer of that caliber on a line with Hughes could help him take that next step in his development and make the Devils a much more dangerous team. Yet, for a deal to work, a top prospect and young NHL-caliber player would need to be added to the swap.
Some Devils prospects who could work in this hypothetical blockbuster include Shakir Mukhamadulin, Nolan Foote, and Arseni Gritsyuk. As for a young NHL player, the big one who stands out is Yegor Sharangovich. However, at the end of the day, the second-overall pick would need to be the primary asset heading to Chicago.
Nevertheless, this is something that all hockey fans should keep a very close eye on this summer. With the Blackhawks rebuilding and the Devils looking to become a playoff team again, these two clubs seem like a perfect match for this kind of blockbuster. With the 2022 NHL Entry Draft less than two months away, we won’t have to wait too long to see if a move like this comes 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.