Trade: Blackhawks deal Alex DeBrincat to Senators for three draft picks

Alex DeBrincat Trade
Melissa Tamez, Getty Images

Consider the Chicago Blackhawks rebuild fully underway.

The team announced on Thursday, just hours before the start of the 2022 NHL draft, that it has traded star forward Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for three draft picks, including the No. 7 and No. 39 overall picks in 2022, as well as a third-round pick in 2023.

DeBrincat has one year remaining on his current contract at a salary cap number of $6.4 million. He will be a restricted free agent after this season and then eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2023-24 season.

This is a massive move that will have a long-lasting impact for both teams.

From the Ottawa side, they just landed an impact player and one of the best goal scorers in the league to add to a promising young collection of forwards that already includes Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk, and Drake Batherson.

[Related: Free agency tracker: Full list of 2022 offseason signings]

DeBrincat has already scored 40 goals twice (including this past season) and had another season (2020-21) where he scored 32 goals in 52 games. He is still only 24 years old and right in the middle of what should be his prime scoring years. The Senators have two years to prove they can build a winner around him and hopefully convince him to re-sign, but in the short-term they added a legit star scorer to their lineup without having to give up a single player or prospect from their organization. The No. 7 overall pick has the most value, but the odds of them using that pick on a player as good as DeBrincat are slim based on draft history.

It is a no-brainer move. Even if there is a chance that DeBrincat does not ultimately re-sign there long-term, this gives them the inside track to getting him signed and when you have a chance to add an elite talent you absolutely have to do it.

As for the Blackhawks, this is grim.

Very grim.

It also shows just how deep this rebuild is about to go. If you are not going to keep a 24-year-old star that is already one of the elite goal scorers in the league, then that should tell you what management thinks of this team’s short-term prospects. It should also open the door for even more significant moves in the very near future with other core players.

The Blackhawks did not have a first-round pick this season after trading it to the Columbus Blue Jackets in last year’s Seth Jones trade. That pick ended up being the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft.

They had to trade one of their best players to pick one pick after that, and still have Jones’ eight-year contract on the books starting this season.

The seventh overall pick is obviously the key to the deal, and there is the chance to get a pretty good player, but odds are it is not going to be a franchise changer. The No. 39 pick and next year’s third-round pick might be 50-50 bets, at best, to even become an NHL player.

If you are a Blackhawks fan this has to be as underwhelming of a return as you could have ever imagined. Which is usually what happens in these sorts of deals.


Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

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

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

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

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

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

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

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.