Five things we learned after a wild week for Blackhawks

The NHL trade deadline has passed. Finally.

It arrived Friday at 2 p.m. with a whimper, but that's only because most of the earth-shattering moves had already been made.

Was it really Tuesday that the Blackhawks traded Patrick Kane to the Rangers? Feels like eons ago to some - and especially to GM Kyle Davidson.

"It truly was a whirlwind," Davidson said after the Hawks practiced at Fifth Third Arena on Friday. "Going back to the start of this last road trip feels like three weeks ago, even though it was just a couple days. It's been really busy, really hectic, lots of different things flying around (and) lots of scenarios.

"But in the end ... just really, really happy with what we were able to accomplish."

The Hawks ended up trading five players off their roster: forwards Kane, Sam Lafferty and Max Domi, and defensemen Jack Johnson and Jake McCabe.

The biggest adds were a hard-hitting defenseman in the 27-year-old Andreas Englund, 31-year-old defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and a bottom-six forward in Joey Anderson. Of course, it's the high draft picks Davidson is most pleased with. He's now armed with eight selections in the first three rounds in 2023; six in the first three rounds in 2024; and seven in the first four rounds in 2025. (If the Rangers reach the conference finals, this year's second-rounder becomes a first-rounder in 2024 or '25).

Here's a quick rundown of what we learned over the past couple of days:

1. How Kane trade evolved:

So would Patrick Kane only green-light a trade to the New York Rangers? That's what we've been led to believe by some, but Davidson dispelled that myth, saying: "It wasn't as rigid as that, I guess. It's not that there (weren't) other teams in play. We were just kind of going back and forth on teams and situations and scenarios. ... "It was never, like, 'OK, it's the Rangers or no one else.' It's just, 'You know what? The Rangers is a place I would like to go.' And so you just work on that, right?"

Davidson could have played hardball with the Rangers, but the entire Hawks organization wanted to make a franchise icon's wish come true - even if it meant settling for a conditional second-round pick, a fourth-round pick and two throwaway defensemen.

"If there were more teams involved, would the return have been bigger? Yeah," Davidson said. "But that's not the situation we were in. ...

"Given the circumstances, I'm actually pretty happy with how we did. ... The return we got was adequate. But more importantly, it was finding the spot for Patrick. ...

"He asked to go somewhere, we were going to find a way. And we did."

As for how it felt?

"Once I talked to Patrick, it was heavy," Davidson said. "You're sitting in the eye of the hurricane, but you know what's going on is some serious stuff and you feel it for sure."

2. Still so much to do:

Every rebuilding franchise is on a different timetable for when it figures to become a serious contender. Make no mistake - the Hawks are on the ground floor, and this is going to take a long time.

But Davidson believes that if he continues to hit on draft picks (and he loves what they did last year) then eventually fans will see another incredible era materialize.

"We've missed the playoffs for a really long time now, and unfortunately we're not going to make it this year," Davidson said. "And it might be a little while before we get back to perennial playoff contention. But we're going to do it in such a way that when we do get to that point, we're going to keep going forward.

"You can't rush that because the last thing you want to do is ... short-circuit it and then we're right back to the messy middle."

"We want to be in the top third and fighting for not just playoff contention but a team that, heading into the season and at the end of the season, people are saying, 'Hey, this team has a real shot.'"

3. Keep an eye on:

Just as we saw this season with Max Domi, Jack Johnson, Andreas Athanasiou and others, the Hawks need veterans to set a good example.

One newcomer who could fill that role is 31-year-old defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, who was acquired in a trade with Ottawa and has one year remaining on a seven-year, $31.5 million deal.

Zaitsev practiced with the Hawks for the first time Friday and is expected to play against Nashville at the United Center on Saturday.

The Hawks will also add forward Austin Wagner to the fold. Wagner, 25, was acquired from Los Angeles on Friday for future considerations.

4. Could Domi return?

Forward Max Domi, who had 18 goals and 31 assists to lead the Blackhawks in scoring, was traded to Dallas after the Stars' 5-2 victory at the United Center on Thursday. The fiery, well-liked Domi will be a restricted free agent next season and could be a candidate to return.

GM Kyle Davidson respected the fact that Domi is now property of the Stars, but you could tell coach Luke Richardson would love it if the veteran came back.

"He really like it here," Richardson said. "He loved it, the city and the team - and it showed. I thought he played with passion."

5. Lots of OMG moments for Davidson:

Think about everything Kyle Davidson has dealt with since he was named interim GM on October 26, 2022.

He's fired a coach, named an interim coach, signed a coach, gone through a draft, navigated two trading deadlines and traded away the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Brandon Hagel and - of course - a future Hall of Famer in Patrick Kane.

"The one thing I do reflect on a lot is I've experienced a lot of pretty big moments early in my career," Davidson said. "There's a lot of heat that comes with it at times and you learn a lot about yourself. ...

"I'm a year in, I'm 34 years old (and) I've got a lot to learn. But I have a pretty strong opinion and strong belief in myself in what we're doing here and that we are on the right path.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.