Tonight will mark the return of Alex DeBrincat for his first game at the Mad House after his draft day trade to the Ottawa Senators last July. This has been heavily debated on whether or not this was the correct move by Kyle Davidson as a lot of people including fans and hockey experts were beyond puzzled by the move. To a lot of people he was seen as the piece you build around, and with the Hawks entering rebuild mode, it kind of felt like that was the plan. However, hours before the draft he was dealt for the 7th overall pick, 39th overall pick, and 2024 3rd round pick. Now for a young stud of a player that seemed to be an absolute steal for the Ottawa Senators, and once again the Hawks were mocked for another poor decision. As we get closer to the end of the season and with the return tonight, why not take a way to early look at who might have won this trade.
Ottawa Return ~ Alex DeBrincat
Right off the bat you give a point to the Senators; they have an NHL ready player making a difference out on the ice. In 62 games this season, he has a stat line of 20 goals 34 assist and 54 points. Comparing that to his last season in Chicago, in 82 games he put up 41 goals 37 assist and 78 points. His 54 points puts him 4th on the team in scoring. Now there are still 20 games left for him this season and he has the skill to do it but I think it might be safe to say he’s not going to clip the 40 goal mark this year. There was a bit of a debate on whether or not he could get the job done with out Kane as his line mate and while there’s a lot of factors out there, it definitely appears Kane needed the Cat more than he needed Kane. He is a big part of this team's game plan as he ranks 2nd on the team in average ice time among forwards with 19:02.
Ottawa is a team that for the first time in a long time has put together a team with an eye on winning and not battling out for draft position. They have made some big moves this past year on top of the DeBrincat trade, including bringing veteran Claude Giroux and Cam Talbot and then making the move to trade for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. They also have their young core (Chabot, Norris, Stutzle, Batherson, Tkachuk) locked in through at least the 2026-2027 season. Now where the loss in this trade might hit them is the future of Alex DeBrincat. If the team offers him a qualifying offer and that gets accepted than you are looking at a 9 million dollar cap hit for him next season. As of writing, this team is committed to just under 61.5 million in cap space with 10 contracts expiring at the end of the season including the Cat (RFA) and Talbot (UFA). They will have the money to sign him long term and this is seen as the top priority for them, so you have to imagine they get the job done. I think the future is bright for this team and seeing that they are fighting for a wild card spot this season. I think you can sell him on the idea that this is a team ready to win and with him staying he’s going to help accomplish that.
Hawks Return ~ 2022 First and Second Rounder 2024 Third Rounder.
It is tough to really judge how the Hawks might have won or lost this trade considering the two players they drafted so far haven’t made an impact on the team and they won’t see any results from the 3rd pick until 2024. However, based on hype alone, there are all the reasons in the world to get excited and start tossing out the idea they won this trade.
With the first round pick, the Hawks selected defenseman Kevin Korchinski, currently playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. In 45 games this season, the 18 year old has put up 8 goals 53 assists and 61 points. He is going to blow past his career high of 65 points in 67 games this season. He also was a member of the 2023 World Junior Champions Team Canada; while he wasn’t a huge part of that team's success, he still managed 4 points in 7 games. Korchinski is being compared to John Klingberg. He has great skating abilities, great awareness of his surroundings on the ice, and can be a guy you run the power play through. It is safe to say that once he makes the jump to the NHL he will be a huge part of the new core and will be seen as the next Keith of this team. I know personally I have not been this excited for a defensive prospect and with the young group of defenders the Hawks have in their system, I think the fan base as a whole should get excited.
Paul Ludwinski was the player picked with Ottawas 2nd round pick. The 18 year old center has been having a productive season with the Kingston Frontenacs putting up 9 goals 25 assists and 34 points in 47 games. He has been labeled a high energy player who is all gas and no brakes. After he was drafted, in an interview, he said he believes he has the best motor in his draft class. By the sounds of his scouting report, you have to think he is on par with Shaw and Lafferty, a guy that can get plugged into any spot in the line up and make things happen.
Then of course you have the 2024 third round pick which KD could use as trade capital going forward to help get a better pick or even land a nice roster piece.
With all that said, and it truly being too early to give a real answer, but you have to argue that this trade is in the win-win category at the moment. Ottawa is in ready to win now mode and DeBrincat helps them achieve just that. While the Hawks are gearing up for the future, the players they drafted from this trade will get time to develop and get into a position to make a difference for years to come once they get the call. I would have loved to have DeBrincat still a member of this team. I truly believe that moving him was the best option for this teams future and the only way this isn’t the case is, if Korchinski does not live up to the hype. Time will tell on this one and it will be fun to look back at this one in a few years.