What Alex DeBrincat’s potential trade might look like for the Black Hawks

There’s enough smoke about the potential for Chicago Blackhawks trading star Alex DePrince’s off-season winger that we’ll probably take notice. And if you’re a fan of the Blackhawks, prepare for it.

On Tuesday, Athletic’s Scott Powers outlined the reasons why the Black Hawks are likely to make such a move out of the season, and it basically boils down to this (my words): The squad currently stinks, the front office is ready to begin a potentially massive rebuild That would require several years to make the team competitive again, and re-sign DeBrincat to a new contract after this season (he will be a restricted free agent after the 2022-23 season) which pays him likely upwards of $9 million annually. Not what the rebuild team needs at the moment.

Then there’s the fact that it is – by far! Their most tradable assets that are also likely to aid in the rebuilding efforts d.

Add it all together, and you have the potential for a huge deal.

But what would such a deal look like for the Black Hawk?

As we discussed when Buffalo Sabers were trying to get through the Jack Eichel trade, these types of deals never seem like anyone would expect them to look at. It is really difficult to trade a player of this level and get an equal return. It’s also tricky because there aren’t a lot of parallels to look at here to compare because players like DeBrincat aren’t usually traded.

He’s still only 24 years old and in the prime of his career, but he’s also one of the top scorers in the league. For his career, he has averaged a pace of 35 goals per 82 games, has already crossed the 40-goal mark twice, and was almost certain to have a third season of 40 goals in the 2020-21 NHL season (32 goals in 52 games) shortened.

Try to think of a similar player (age, talent, production) that has been traded in recent years and what that return looked like.

There is not much to go by.

Eshel of course comes to mind as, at the age of 25, he averaged 0.37 goals per game and 0.95 points per game while being a multi-year contract with a maximum salary of $10 million per year. Buffalo had a first-round, second-round pick, Alex Tosh and Peyton Cripps.

Patrick Lane at the time of his trade from Winnipeg to Columbus was very similar to DeBrinkat as a scorer and contract player. He and Jack Roslovich were dealt a third-round draw and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The big factor here was that both Lin and Dubois wanted to break out of their current situations.

Taylor Hall was previously the first general pick and was 24 when Edmonton traded him for New Jersey in a one-on-one deal with Adam Larson.

This may be the latest similar deal.

But let’s expand on this a little more and try to take a more objective look at it. In the salary cap era, there were 35 strikers who played at least 100 games, averaging more than 0.35 goals per game, and 0.80 points per game before their 25th birthday in the NHL. DeBrincat is one of those players.

Out of the 34 others, only 11 were traded At any point in their career? (Whether it is before or after their 25th birthday.)

Only seven of them have traded before their 26th birthday: this list includes Tyler Seguin, Mike Camaleri, Lynne, Eshel, Hall, Bobby Ryan, and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Seguin was traded at age 20, after only his second season in the NHL.

Kovalchuk has been traded as an unrestricted free agent pending.

Neither mode is quite the same as that of the Blackhawks and DeBrincat, but the talent level is fairly close.

Here’s what each of these seven players traded for.

It is a completely mixed return bag.

Seguin’s trade looked good on paper at first, but within three years Boston had literally nothing to show as they moved on from all four players for one reason or another. The jury is still out on the Eichel and Laine deals. Hall’s trade was a disaster for Edmonton, while Kovalchuk’s trade was only spare parts for Atlanta.

Although the common thread with most of these deals is a first-round pick, a really good prospect or young NHL player, and sometimes some NHL roster filler.

It is worth bearing in mind that every situation is different. All of these players are different in some way, and it only takes one team to put on a big show to get Chicago out of the water. But there is still uncertainty with DeBrincat regarding the contract as any team he trades with will have to sign him to a new contract, and will need room for a salary cap for that. This could knock some teams out of the race.

If the Blackhawks decide to go ahead with the rebuild and take on the DeBrincat, there should be no shortage of interested teams. New Jersey, Buffalo and Detroit need something to start rebuilding. Calgary may have to replace Johnny Goudreau. Los Angeles and the New York Islands need another star. What this trade looks like though remains to be seen. But there is at least a potential framework based on similar deals in the age of salary caps.

Can Chicago do any better than any of these?

We may find out in the coming weeks.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Leave him a line phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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