The long-anticipated dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks’ roster began Thursday with the team trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens.
In completing a third trade to acquire goalie Petr Mrazek from the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blackhawks went from having nothing in the first round at the NHL draft in Montreal to making three picks through the evening.
Chicago acquired the seventh and 39th picks in this year’s draft and a third-rounder in 2024 for DeBrincat, who is likely a year away from a big payday. The Blackhawks acquired the No. 13 pick by trading Dach to Montreal.
In adding Mrazek, the Blackhawks acquired the No. 25 selection for helping the Maple Leafs free up much-needed salary cap space. Mrazek has two years remaining on a three-year $11.4 million contract he signed with Toronto.
Dealing DeBrincat signals a shift into win-soon mode for the Senators, while the Blackhawks moved even further away from contending again a year after making moves like acquiring defenseman Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury.
With a lot of losses coming up next season and beyond, the attention now turns to the future of longtime Blackhawks stars and three-time Stanley Cup-winners Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, whose matching contracts expire after next season.
They already gained some financial flexibility by trading DeBrincat, who is expected to attract a hefty raise once his current deal expires after the 2022-23 season.
DeBrincat, 24, has one year left on a $19.2 million, three-year contract, after which he is eligible to become a restricted free agent. Dorion said the Senators expect to start extension talks with DeBrincat’s agent next week when league rules allow them but added the team wants to make sure he’s a good fit in coach D.J. Smith’s system.
Chicago selected Canadian junior defenseman Kevin Korchinski with the 13th pick, U.S. development team center Frank Nazar at No. 13 and Minnesota high school defenseman Sam Rinzel at No. 25.
DeBrincat has been one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers since his debut with the Blackhawks in 2017. The winger matched his career-high with 41 goals this past season and set a career-best with 37 assists in 82 games.
Overall, he has 160 goals and 147 assists in 368 games.