What a potential Alex DeBrincat trade could look like for Blackhawks

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There is enough smoke around the possibility of the Chicago Blackhawks trading star winger Alex DeBrincat this offseason that we should probably be paying attention to it. And if you are a Blackhawks fan, preparing yourself for it.

On Tuesday, the Athletic’s Scott Powers outlined the reasons why the Blackhawks are likely to make such a move this offseason and it basically boils down to this (my words): The team currently stinks, the front office is ready kick off a massive rebuild that will probably require several years to make the team competitive again, and re-signing DeBrincat to a new contract after this season (he will be a restricted free agent after the 2022-23 season) that pays him upwards of $9 million per year is probably not what a rebuilding team needs at the moment.

Then there is also the fact he is — by far! — their most tradable asset which also probably assists the rebuilding effortd.

Add all of that together, and you have the potential for a blockbuster deal.

But what would such a deal look like for the Blackhawks?

As we discussed when the Buffalo Sabres were trying to go through the Jack Eichel trade these types of deals never look like anybody expects them to look. It is really difficult to trade a player of this caliber and get back an equal return. It is also difficult because there are not really many parallels to look at here for comparison because players like DeBrincat do not typically get traded.

He is not only still just 24 years old and in the prime of his career, but he is also already one of the league’s top goal scorers. For his career he’s averaged a 35-goal pace per 82 games, has already topped the 40-goal mark twice, and would almost certainly had a third 40-goal season had the 2020-21 NHL season (32 goals in 52 games) not been 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’s not many to go by.

Eichel of course comes to mind as he was 25, averaged 0.37 goals per game and 0.95 points game while he was under contract for several years with a $10 million per year salary cap hit. Buffalo receieved a first-round pick, a second-round pick, Alex Tuch, and Peyton Krebs.

Patrik Laine at the time of his trade from Winnipeg to Columbus was pretty similar to DeBrincat as a goal-scorer and contractually. He and Jack Roslovic were dealt in exchange for a third-round draft pick and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The big factor here is that both Laine and Dubois wanted out of their current situations.

Taylor Hall was a former No. 1 overall pick and 24 years old when Edmonton traded him to New Jersey in a one-for-one deal for Adam Larsson.

Those are probably the most recent comparable deals.

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 have been 35 forwards that played at least 100 games, averaged 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 other 34, only 11 of them were traded at any point in their career (whether it be before their 25th birthday or after).

Only seven of them were traded before their 26th birthday: That list includes Tyler Seguin, Mike Cammalleri, Laine, Eichel, Hall, Bobby Ryan, and Ilya Kovalchuk.

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

Kovalchuk was traded as a pending unrestricted free agent.

Neither situation is totally similar to the Blackhawks and DeBrincat, but the talent level is somewhat close.

Here is what each of those seven players was traded for.

Quite the mixed bag of returns.

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

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

It is worth keeping in mind that every situation is different. All of these players are different in some way, and it only takes one team to make a big offer to blow Chicago out of the water. But there is still uncertainty with DeBrincat in terms of a contract as whatever team would trade for him would have to sign him to a new contract, and it will need the salary cap space for that. That might take some teams out of the running.

If the Blackhawks do decide to go all in with a rebuild and deal DeBrincat there should be no shortage of interested teams. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Detroit need something to jumpstart their rebuild. Calgary might have to replace Johnny Gaudreau. Los Angeles and the New York Islanders need another star. What that trade looks like though remains to be seen. But there is at least a potential framework out there based on similar deals in the salary cap era.

Can Chicago do better than any of those?

We might find out in the coming weeks.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.