On Oct. 7, the Chicago Blackhawks made a late night transaction the day before their final preseason contest. General manager Kyle Davidson took advantage of the salary cap-strapped Vancouver Canucks with a trade that gained the team yet another future asset. Defenseman Riley Stillman and forward Jason Dickinson exchanged scenery, with Stillman going to the Vancouver and Dickinson to Chicago. With this move, the Canucks gained $1.3 million in cap space, but they also gave up of 2024 second-round pick to the Blackhawks.
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Stillman is a very serviceable defenseman, but to get a second-round pick and an NHL depth forward for him is a great return. It’s the kind of trade you want to see a rebuilding general manager make. With that said, we now have a new Blackhawk on the roster. Let’s learn some more about Dickinson.
The Georgetown, Ontario native was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the first round (29th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He played four seasons with the OHL Guelph Storm before joining the Stars AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars for the end of the 2014-15 season. The following two seasons were also played mostly in the AHL. He did suit up for one game with the big club on Apr. 7, 2016, and scored his first NHL goal!
Dickinson split the 2017-18 season between the two Stars’ teams (42 games with the AHL Stars and 27 games with the NHL Stars), before finally joining as a full-time NHL player in the 2018-19 season, and for the following two campaigns. In that span of three seasons, he accumulated 22 goals and 36 assists for 58 overall points in regular season play. He also added five goals and nine points in 40 playoff games during the Stars’ playoffs runs in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
Now, these numbers don’t exactly jump off the page for a former first-round draft pick. But Dickinson put together some good contributions on the more defensive end of things. In the same three-year span, the six-foot-two forward was credited with 154 blocked shots and 273 hits. Oh, and 105 takeaways! He added 45 blocked shots, 92 hits and 17 takeaways in the playoffs. It’s safe to say Dickinson was a solid player for Dallas.
Alas, the Stars were faced with a difficult decision at the end of the 2020-21 season. They weren’t going to protect Dickinson in the expansion draft, so they traded him to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He didn’t fare as well with the Canucks, recording just five goals and 11 points in 62 games. Although, his secondary stats were consistent with his time in Dallas. He registered 43 blocked shots, 101! hits, and 20 takeaways.
What Dickinson Brings to the Blackhawks
To be fair, we learned before Dickinson’s debut with the Blackhawks that he played most of last season with a broken hand. I reached out to my colleague, Matthew Zator, who covers the Canucks for The Hockey Writers. Here are his thoughts on Dickinson’s time in Vancouver, and what he could bring to the Blackhawks.
Dickinson couldn’t seem to find a spot in the Canucks lineup last season. He was brought in to be the third-line center, yet he struggled to win faceoffs and kill penalties. He ended up playing on the wing most of the season and just didn’t fit anywhere on the team. I still think he’s a character guy with some good all-around two-way skill. If he can somehow return to the form that he showed with the Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks might have something.
Could the Blackhawks have something in this 27-year-old, 200-pound forward? Like Matthew mentioned, Dickinson is a character guy who could still have a lot to offer, given the right fit. He can play either center or wing, as well as contribute on the penalty kill.
He was certainly out to prove himself in his Blackhawks’ debut. Things couldn’t have gone much better for the newest member of the team.
Dickinson’s Debut With the Blackhawks
Dickinson wasn’t able to join the team right away due to visa issues. He finally dressed on Oct. 16 for Chicago’s third contest of the season, against the San Jose Sharks. He slotted in on the third line with Sam Lafferty and Philipp Kurashev, logging 12:07 minutes, 1:28 of which were on the penalty kill. And boy, did he make an impact!
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I specifically mention the penalty kill because Dickinson provided the primary assists for two short-handed goals by Lafferty. He went on to add a goal of his own in the third period, for a three-point night in his first game as a Blackhawk. Ironically, he managed all this with the lowest ice time on the team. Now, Dickinson was brought into the fold be more of a defense-focused depth forward. A goal and two assists might be a bit of an anomaly. But it’s certainly a good start with his new team!
You’d think I would be showing you Dickinson’s first goal as a Blackhawk, but here’s a look at his second assist to Lafferty. This gives you an idea of the extra effort he’s willing to put in.
Dickinson’s contract runs for the next two seasons with an annual cap hit of $2.65 million. It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks see him as a part of the future, or if he’s another rental they could turn around at the trade deadline for further future assets. In the meantime, how Dickinson fits in with the team remains to be seen. Can he keep up his hot start? Will he be a depth forward, or eventually work his way up in the lineup? Could he be a major contributor on the penalty kill, or even end up leading the Blackhawks in hits?
Either way, he looks like a good addition for now.
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Gail Kauchak has covered the Chicago Blackhawks as a content writer since 2014. She previously wrote for Fansided’s Blackhawk Up, and has been part of The Hockey Writer’s team since 2017. It’s not always easy to balance life’s responsibility’s with one’s passion, but Gail’s doing her best to make it happen. Quote to live by, “Follow your dreams, and good things will happen.” Wait, maybe it’s “Good things happen when you shoot the puck!” You get the idea.
Follow Gail for her unique commentary about this storied franchise. And be sure to catch her and the rest of the Blackhawks’ crew on their weekly Blackhawks Banter show, as well as follow her on Twitter.