The Chicago Blackhawks front office has had quite the month. Despite the most pressing matter, the ongoing sexual assault lawsuit against former Chicago coach Brad Aldrich, they have been making so many moves behind the scenes that even the most dedicated Chicago fans might be struggling to retain it all. The following looks at the Blackhawks News and Notes over the past few weeks.
Keeping Up With the Blackhawks News
Brothers Reunite From Around the League
The Fleury brothers in Seattle, the Hughes brothers in New Jersey, the Makar brothers in Colorado; amidst the pairs of brothers being reuniting by the same organization across the league, the Hawks have only contributed to this phenomenon. Their first pair was obtained via trades. The Hawks acquired defenceman Caleb Jones and a 2022 3rd-rounder from Edmonton in exchange for defenceman Duncan Keith and forward Tim Soderlund.
Although Keith has been with the Hawks organization since the beginning of his career, establishing himself as a Chicago legend in the process, this trade came as no surprise. Keith himself was the one who requested to be traded in order to be closer to his son in southern British Columbia.
During this entire process, the rumours of where Columbus’ star defenceman Seth Jones would land were ramping up. However, Chicago trading for Seth’s brother almost confirmed his destination in many’s eyes. And sure enough, just a week later Seth was headed to Chicago. Columbus dealt Jones, their 2021 1st-rounder, and a 2022 6th-rounder in exchange for Chicago’s Adam Boqvist, 2021 1st and 2nd-rounders, and a 2022 1st-rounder.
Because of the Seth Jones trade, Chicago moved down in this year’s entry draft to the last pick of the 1st-round (previously 12th) and the 62nd in the 2nd-round (previously 44th). They ended up taking defenseman Nolan Allan and forward Colton Dach, respectively. Eighteen-year-old Allan currently plays for the Prince Albert Raiders and recently won gold at the U18 World Championship with Team Canada.
However, the more exciting name to Hawks fans would be Colton Dach: Kirby Dach’s brother. Colton, following in his brother’s footsteps, also plays for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. He put up a respectable 20 points in 20 games played last season. In his draft interview, he dove into how he and his brother would be “one of the perfect fits” on the ice. Colton described himself as a “shoot-first player” and Kirby as a “pass-first player.” Chicago fans should be excited to see how these brother duos unfold on the main stage in the near future.
Free Agent Frenzy
Prior to the start of free agency, Chicago announced they made qualifying offers to forwards Brandon Hagel, Alex Nylander, and defenseman Nikita Zadorov. This left forwards Pius Suter, David Kampf, Adam Gaudette, and Josh Dickinson set to be exposed when free agency began. Gaudette, however, did sign a 1-year deal at $999,750 immediately after, solidifying his spot on the roster for next season.
After this announcement, there was an uproar from Chicago fans as they questioned why Suter would be left exposed. He finished fifth overall in goals and sixth overall in points among all rookies last season. Suter was also named MVP of the Swiss League during the season prior to joining Chicago’s roster. With the possibility of Toews rejoining the Hawks next season they would be clogged with centers, nevertheless, this decision is still puzzling to comprehend. A vast array of fan bases were hoping for him to land in their organizations but ultimately Suter got an offer from Detroit, and he will remain there for the next two seasons at $3.25 million per year.
Just before free agency started, the Blackhawks made news on the trade front. They traded Zadorov to Calgary in exchange for a 2022 3rd-round pick. He only played one season as a Blackhawk and received mixed reviews. While his physicality did not go unnoticed, his turnovers and the bad penalties he took outweighed his positives.
Kampf ended up being signed by Toronto and Hinostroza by Buffalo. David Kampf may not be a widely known name, as he is not a goal-scoring machine, but he quietly plays a big role at the dot. In Toews’ absence, he was one of the few Hawks who could take faceoffs last season, and it was clearly not disregarded. Kyle Dubas, the Leafs’ general manager, told reporters, “I don’t know how many times I’ve asked Stan about him over the years, but a lot.”
The Blackhawks continued to make news, signing two new skaters at the start of free agency: Jujhar Khaira and Jake McCabe. Khaira signed a two-year $975,000 deal with Chicago after playing six seasons with Edmonton. He introduces a physical element to the Hawks’ roster as he said he can “bring a hard-nosed game out there.” They also acquired McCabe: a defenseman from Buffalo. Although he is coming off of a knee injury that limited him to only 13 games last season, McCabe is confident is in his recovery and will be playing top minutes out there for the Hawks. He is another physical player who can bring his strong leadership skills into the locker room amid the many young players.
One of the main factors that persuaded his decision to sign with Chicago was his family ties. Both his wife and daughter were born in Illinois, and this is where he already spends his offseasons. He describes how he “got chills walking into the building.” McCabe was also excited about the Hawks bringing in Seth Jones and praised him as a fellow defenseman.
One of the more surprising acquisitions by the Hawks came from Vegas, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. A fan favourite and a future Hall of Famer, Fleury has established himself as one of the top goalies in the league. Even better, at age thirty-six he continues to prove his dominance, capturing both the Vezina and William M. Jennings Trophy last season. This trade caught not only Vegas fans but all fanbases off guard. Fleury has been with the Golden Knights organization since the beginning when he was selected by them during their 2017 expansion draft. Since then, he has led them on playoff runs in every season of the organization’s existence and even dragged them to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.
After this latest bit of Blackhawks news leaked to the media, fans became concerned with how Vegas’ front office handled the ordeal. It was reported that Fleury found out about the trade via Twitter and that he may have wanted to stay with the organization until retirement. In turn, this prompted rumours of Fleury retiring instead of reporting to Chicago before the next season gets underway.
The Flower has Blossomed
Fortunately for Hawks fans, it has just been confirmed that Fleury will play for the Hawks this season. This is fantastic news as he instantly makes Chicago’s roster stronger. Even better, he will be the perfect mentor to help Kevin Lankinen as his career continues to take off. During Lankinen’s rookie season, he shifted from the third-string option into the Chicago starter and he did not have someone there to help ease him into this massive transition. This goalie tandem will be a treat to watch.
Another intriguing move came on the first day of free agency; this time from Tampa. The expected unravelling of the reigning champs’ roster has commenced, and forward Tyler Johnson is one of the first victims. Tampa exchanged both Johnson and a 2023 2nd-round pick for the rights to Brent Seabrook. Like the Fleury trade, this too was a clear cap dump. Seabrook’s on-ice career is over, but his contract will not hurt the Lightning Salary Cap as he will remain on LTIR for his final three seasons. This move did turn some heads after Chicago did not give a qualifying offer to Pius Suter, but Johnson’s two championships will surely only add to Chicago’s depth.
Main Photo: DENVER, CO – JUNE 08: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) stands in the net during a Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on June 8, 2021. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)