Even if Blackhawks trade rights to Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, they won’t get much back
The Hawks would like to get something during draft week in exchange for the two forwards, to whom they aren’t expected to give qualifying offers, but they don’t have much leverage.
MONTREAL — Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson and the NHL’s 31 other GMs will meet for several hours Wednesday ahead of the draft Thursday and Friday.
Trades won’t officially be on the agenda, but the spin-off trade discussions the meeting might produce is clearly the most intriguing part.
Davidson likely will be an active player in said discussions, too, and will remain so into Thursday and Friday. The Hawks have made it clear their top priority is to accumulate as many future-oriented assets — picks and prospects, namely — as possible, and they’re willing to listen to offers for any of their players.
Wing Alex DeBrincat obviously headlines that list. He might headline the list of players on the block across the entire NHL, although it remains unclear whether he will be moved this week. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Flyers had talked with the Hawks about DeBrincat, but their unwillingness to part with the No. 5 overall pick cooled off those negotiations.
And DeBrincat isn’t the only player for whom Davidson will be trying to find a suitor. With pending restricted-free-agent forwards Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik seemingly not in the Hawks’ plans moving forward, trading their RFA rights to more interested teams would be prudent.
The issue is whether any teams will be willing to give up anything — even a mid-round draft pick — for either guy. Even if the Hawks do get another team to bite, they probably won’t get very much in return.
The Hawks have backed themselves into somewhat of a corner, given that it’s practically common knowledge that they don’t plan to issue a qualifying offer to either player by the deadline Sunday. By next Wednesday, they likely both will be unrestricted free agents.
That’s because of several reasons. Strome’s qualifying offer would come in at $3.6 million and Kubalik’s at $4 million, both potentially above fair market value. Strome, 25, and Kubalik, a month from turning 27, won’t still be in their primes when the Hawks try to contend again in a few years. And both can be significant offensive contributors when hot, which would be counterintuitive to the Hawks’ tanking objective.
So the only advantages for another team trading for Strome or Kubalik would be the opportunity to sign him to an extension in the next few days or to give him a qualifying offer Sunday — at the aforementioned price — and figure out an extension later this summer.
In Kubalik’s case, it’s really just the former because it’s unlikely that any team would be willing to pay him $4 million coming off his highly disappointing 32-point season in 2021-22.
The Hawks theoretically would have been much better off dealing them at the trade deadline in March or even before that, but it’s hard to fault them for not doing so.
Kubalik’s value was already depressed at the time, and the Hawks likely hoped he eventually would find his game again. Strome never received much trade interest all season long, sources said, despite the Hawks’ continued efforts to shop him.
Now the end of the two enigmatic forwards’ tenures in Chicago (probably) has arrived, and Davidson presumably will take pretty much whatever he can get for them. But given his lack of leverage, there’s no guarantee that mindset will lead to trades coming to fruition.