Kyle Davidson, the first general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, must really love standing on stage.
After a dizzying array of moves on draft day, he took to the Montreal Bell Center microphone three times Thursday night in Round 1 to announce the selection of three new Hawks: defensemen Kevin Korchinski and Sam Rinzel and forward Frank Nazar.
And the Hawks started the day with no first-round pick.
Davidson caught the eye in NHL circles with his first draft number.
To achieve such a feat, however, the Hawks traded star winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday for picks No. 7 and 39 this year and a third round in 2024.
Then, on another draft day, the Hawks sent Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens for the 13th and 66th picks, which meant the Canadiens were sending defenseman Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders for the 13th pick.
The Hawks passed the seventh pick on 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman Korchinski from the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. NHL Central Scouting describes him as “a high-end offensive defenseman who is very skilled and can generate scoring opportunities in all situations. Excellent on the power play.
“We really got our guy,” Davidson said on the show. “That was one of the main things we wanted to do today was get Kevin Korchinski, and we got him.
“The combination of the size, the skating, the whole package, we were really, really sold. We are simply delighted.
As elated as the Hawks are about Korchinski, they really satisfied their need for speed with right-handed forward Nazar.
Central Scouting says he is “an excellent skater who can generate speed quickly, processes play very well and can create chances on the fly. A constant threat that moves well laterally when carrying the puck and is difficult to contain.
“Oh my god, this is unreal,” Nazar told Emily Kaplan on the ESPN broadcast. “It’s like you’re in a dream and you’re not going to wake up eventually. It just continues.
To cap off the night, the Hawks acquired the 25th overall pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In exchange, they helped the Leafs free up space by accepting veteran goaltender Petr Mrázek’s salary ($3.8 million through 2023-24) and sending a second-round pick (38th) with him.
Rinzel, another tall blue liner at 6-foot-4 and 177 pounds, plays like Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo, according to Central Scouting.
He is “a top-notch skater for his height with a smooth stride and very good mobility,” according to his scouting report. “A very good first pass with good vision to find open teammates. …Defends with a good solid stick.
Asked about the possibility of joining the reconstruction, Rinzel said on the show: “I think it will be a good opportunity for me and for a lot of players to make an impact.”
The Hawks also started the offseason without a contract goaltender and now have Mrazek, with Kevin Lankinen still unsigned.
But the day was about the long-term future, not next season.
The Hawks were happy to land two of their three first-round picks within lottery reach, but it came at a cost.
Davidson said of outgoing players DeBrincat and Dach: “They are good players. DeBrincat is a bit more established in his career and he’s a very productive player, but you know what, in our rebuild, we need assets, we need young assets and we need to build that prospect base. We thought that was the best way forward and we have our process and we’re sticking to it, and we’re happy with how it’s going today.
Dach had nine goals and 17 assists in 70 games for the Hawks last season, but the center has yet to live up to expectations as the third pick in the 2019 draft.
All told, what DeBrincat and Dach bring to the ice has been offset by the Hawks’ desire to assemble a stable of picks and prospects for their years-long rebuild.
The Hawks have closed the chapter on DeBrincat’s five-season run in which the 2016 second-round pick became their top scoring producer and heir apparent to Patrick Kane.
Davidson reportedly turned down multiple offers for DeBrincat, who scored 41 goals last season, until he got the sensational contract he was looking for, which will serve as the basis for a year-long rebuild.
“We thank Alex for his tireless dedication to the Blackhawks organization over the past five seasons and wish him the best in Ottawa,” Davidson said in a team statement. “It was an incredibly difficult decision to trade a player of Alex’s caliber. We feel like this decision sets the Blackhawks up for future success by giving us additional flexibility and future talent. Securing this start of a first-round picks for tonight and an additional second-round pick tomorrow allows us to fortify our prospect base with top-tier players who we hope will make a difference for years to come.
DeBrincat had 160 goals and 147 assists in 368 games over five seasons with the Hawks. He was an All-Star last season for the first time in his career.
On the surface, it wasn’t the hit the Brandon Hagel trade brought — two conditional first-round picks and two Tampa Bay Lightning prospects — but Davidson had worked hard to secure a first-round pick. round in this year’s draft.
Several factors paved the way for the DeBrincat transaction.
The trade of Seth Jones in July, executed by Davidson’s predecessor, Stan Bowman, forced the Hawks to send their first-round pick this year to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ever since Davidson replaced Bowman in late October, he’s lamented losing that pick, especially now that he’s embarked on a rebuild.
And with this decision to press the franchise reset button, the Hawks extended the Stanley Cup return time.
Another mitigating factor: The Hawks needed to find a business partner who not only had the assets they wanted, but the space to accommodate DeBrincat’s cap hit both now and in the future.
Even with DeBrincat being 24, the Hawks might have risked seeing him past his prime before being competitive again. Additionally, the Hawks said they wanted to be careful with their spending, and a qualifying offer to DeBrincat would cost them $9 million.
The Hawks are also trying to create picks and prospects, so trading DeBrincat served two purposes: adding two more picks in the first two rounds this year and – with the loss of their most dynamic winger besides Kane – the Hawks. put firmly in the Connor Concours Bédard in 2023.
The director of amateur scouting described Bedard as a “generational” talent along with Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli, giving the Hawks three chances at a franchise player if they lose enough games to find themselves in the top three of the lottery.
But that might be small consolation, at least initially, for Hawks fans who have embraced DeBrincat as the future of the franchise.
The question is: is the return worth the cost?
Part of Davidson’s self-imposed mandate was to restock with plenty of picks and/or prospects, so mission accomplished there.
The Hawks have two first-round picks (including one top-10 protected) and two second-round picks in 2023 and two first-round picks (one, top-10 protected) and two third-round picks in 2024 .
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If the Hawks make no further moves, they could end up with 19 picks in the first three rounds over the next three seasons.
The Hawks started this roster revolution with Korchinski, who drew comparisons to Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore.
Korchinski ticks a few boxes for the Hawks. He’s got size, speed, can jump on the run and play the power play, but he’s still seen as a solid defender. He ranked third in the WHL in assists (61) and ranked second among defensemen with 65 points in 67 games, including four goals.
The Hawks have a number of young defensemen between Chicago and Rockford competing for ice time, but director of amateur scouting Mike Doneghey hinted last week that the Hawks wouldn’t pass up a blue liner with fair offensive skills. to fill the Hawks’ other major need: centers.
“If your defensemen can skate fast, they can get pucks fast, and they can transition faster to the forwards, who (ideally) are fast (too),” Doneghey told the Tribune. “You could take away – if you’re a fast-skating defender – time and space (from opponents) in the neutral zone and stop the rush before it even enters the zone.”
Nazar, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound Detroit native, had 28 goals and 42 assists in 56 games for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 team.
Central scouting gives him high marks for hockey IQ and compares him to Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.