The Chicago Blackhawks acquired forward Adam Gaudette from the Vancouver Canucks for Matthew Highmore. Gaudette was the first of 21 players on the club to test positive for COVID-19 but is now off the protocol list.
The Blackhawks add a young forward who is set to be a restricted free agent (RFA) this offseason in their pursuit for the playoffs. The club is battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division with the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, the Canucks are likely to miss the playoffs as they are eight points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth seed and are scheduled to play 19 games in 30 days after having two weeks of action postponed.
Blackhawks Add Depth Forward in Gaudette
Gaudette has spent most of the 2019-20 season as the Canucks’ third-line centre with some time on the wing as well. Now in his fourth NHL season, he has scored four goals and seven points in 33 games. His offensive production regressed this season, as the 24-year-old posted a career-high in the 2019-20 season, scoring 12 goals and posting 33 points in 59 games. Although he struggled to score this season, Gaudette had 59 shots on net this season, converting at a career-low 6.8 shooting percentage. He was also fourth in the NHL in expected goals per 60 minutes.
Most of Gaudette’s struggles come from his two-way game, as he can be a liability in his own zone. The Blackhawks paid a low price for a player who could potentially bounce back for the remainder of the season and provide the club with depth scoring, especially with Mattias Janmark on his way to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Canucks Undersell Gaudette
Days before making the trade on Monday, Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning stated he does not expect the club to be busy as the trade deadline approached. In return for Gaudette, the Canucks received Highmore. At 25 years old, Highmore has posted four goals and 10 points in 24 games through three seasons in the NHL. Currently, the forward is not a full-time NHL player, but Benning is banking on him potentially becoming one for his team.
The Canucks undersold Gaudette and likely could have received a third or fourth-round pick in return for him. With the club likely strapped for cash this off-season, as cornerstone players Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are set to be RFAs this offseason, Gaudette was a cap dump for the team. They will no longer have to worry about re-signing him at a higher price point this offseason. He is one of the few trade pieces the Canucks have this season alongside Brandon Sutter, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Jordie Benn and Travis Hamonic.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.