Blackhawks trade Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty to Maple Leafs for picks, prospects
The Hawks received a 2025 first-round pick, a 2026 second-round pick and low-tier forward prospects Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev. They also sent two fifth-round picks to Toronto.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Blackhawks traded defenseman Jake McCabe and center Sam Lafferty to the Maple Leafs on Monday in their biggest trade yet this February.
In exchange, the Hawks received a 2025 first-round draft pick and a 2026 second-round pick as well as low-tier forward prospects Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev.
“In our effort to acquire future assets and continue the rebuild, draft picks and prospects are the currency that is valuable to us at this time,” general manager Kyle Davidson said. “We were able to get some really high-valued assets in this trade. Obviously, it’s not easy moving on from two good players . . . but you have to give something to get something, and we’re happy with the return.”
The fine print contains some intricate details. The Hawks sent conditional fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025 to Toronto, the latter of which could become a third-round pick if McCabe falls short of some games-played thresholds next season.
The Hawks also retained 50% of McCabe’s $4 million salary-cap hit through 2025, using up one of their three salary-retention slots. The Leafs’ 2025 first-round pick is top-10-protected and would slide to 2026 in that case.
It was the Hawks’ fourth trade this month. They also acquired defenseman Nikita Zaitsev from the Senators, swapped AHL forwards with the Ducks and sent defenseman Jack Johnson to the Avalanche.
“As much as [Jake and Sam] helped us on the ice, they were even better guys off the ice, so that’s even harder to see them go,” defenseman Seth Jones said. “We kind of knew this day was coming [for] the past year and a half. But it sucks when it actually happens.”
The Hawks have now stockpiled six first-round picks over the next three years and eight second-round picks over the next four years after making three first-round and two second-round selections last year.
Those picks form the foundation of -Davidson’s long-term plan. He said the Leafs’ selections falling in 2025 and 2026 was actually the Hawks’ preference.
“We don’t want to stack too many draft picks all in one spot,” he said. “It’s nice to spread them out. It gives you the option to potentially use them as currency elsewhere, too. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make that selection.”
The first-round pick can be considered the return for McCabe and the second-round pick the return for Lafferty. Davidson originally had shopped the players separately but found the same optimal suitor for both, determining it would be “easier to make it a combo.”
Their departures further undermine the Hawks’ active roster — not that that’s of much concern to the front office — but come at high points in their respective c-areer trajectories.
McCabe has enjoyed a fantastic bounce-back season. His plus-7 rating on a team with a minus-62 goal differential was remarkable. He also led Hawks defensemen in five-on-five expected-goals ratio, having developed strong chemistry with Jones on the first pairing.
He said recently, when trade rumors began swirling, that he would like to stay in Chicago — his adopted hometown — but would enjoy finally playing in the playoffs (for the first time in his eight-year career) if a trade happened. Center Jason Dickinson said Monday that McCabe told the team he was “excited for that.”
Lafferty’s season took off around New Year’s Eve. He had notched 13 points in 23 games since then and proved even better defensively, prompting Hawks coach Luke Richardson to recently begin matching him up against opponents’ first lines. His penalty-killing acumen, as evidenced by his league-leading four short-handed goals, was another selling point.
He and McCabe flesh out a Leafs team already bolstered by the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly a few weeks ago. McCabe — whom Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had tried to sign back in 2021 — and Lafferty remaining on affordable contracts into next season also attracted Toronto.
The Leafs needed to move out contracts to make room, however, and from the list of players they made available, Davidson chose Anderson and Gogolev.
Anderson, 24, has bounced between levels the last five seasons with the Devils and Leafs, producing a high level in the AHL but not so much in the NHL. The Hawks will try to unlock more in him, not unlike what they did with Lafferty after acquiring him from the Penguins last season.
Gogolev, 23, has dominated the ECHL this season. He will report to Rockford.