For a lot of Blackhawks fans, the deal Friday that sent wing Brandon Hagel and two fourth-round draft picks to the Lightning for two first-round draft picks and forwards Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh was a painful reminder of how far the franchise has to go before reaching the top echelon of the league again.
For Raddysh, however, it’s a fresh start.
‘‘I’m excited,’’ Raddysh said before he had a power-play goal and an assist in the Hawks’ 6-4 loss Sunday to the Jets. ‘‘Tampa was kind of a tough situation with how good of a team they had, and they had a lot of guys that I was behind and kind of lower on the minutes and in and out of the lineup. I’m excited to be here and to get a good opportunity to play and show myself and be able to prove myself out there.’’
Katchouk’s reaction was a little more complicated.
‘‘It’s just fine,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s just a positive attitude toward everything right now. It sucks to leave such a winning culture and come into a rebuild, but it’s a part of the process. I won’t be the first and I definitely won’t be the last to be traded. Coming in with more opportunity, coming into the Chicago organization and there’s such a rich history in that locker room . . . I’m just going to take the positive from it.”
Because of the Lightning’s depth, Raddysh and Katchouk had limited opportunities to contribute. The Hawks don’t have the same level of talent, which means Raddysh and Katchouk have genuine chances to seize prominent roles.
‘‘If I can fit in wherever I fit in, just to be able to get more minutes, that’s obviously an exciting part,’’ Raddysh said. ‘‘You get to play more, more things happen, you get more confidence and you start playing better. That’s kind of my main reason I’m very excited to be here.’’
An emotional moment
Interim Hawks coach Derek King said Hagel ‘‘looked shocked’’ and was ‘‘getting a “little choked up’’ when they discussed the trade.
‘‘I’ve got a little bit of history with him, obviously, coaching him down in the American [Hockey] League [with Rockford],’’ King said. ‘‘I just said: ‘Hey, you’ve done a great job. You’ve grown into a good hockey player, and you’re going to continue to grow. Hopefully I’m still around the league to watch you do that.’ Just wished him good luck.’’
Unless something surprising happens, Hagel won’t be the last Hawks player to depart before the trade deadline Monday. But even if more key contributors are sent away, the Hawks still will have to finish the season professionally.
King said he hasn’t heard anything about players not buying into what they have to do.
‘‘We’ll see as this week goes on; I’ll address them about it [after the deadline],’’ King said. ‘‘We have a job to do. The Wirtz family, the Chicago Blackhawks, the fans — I mean, we owe them. This is what we’re here to do. We’re here to play hockey and play it to the best of our ability. I’m gonna make sure they know about that after Monday, for sure.’’
Rookie defenseman Alex Vlasic remained in the lineup. Forward Henrik Borgstrom and defenseman Erik Gustafsson were scratched.