ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson’s work has only begun with the Blackhawks


As the Chicago Blackhawks head into the final stretch of games of one of their worst seasons in recent history, there are more questions than answers regarding the future of the team. The easiest part of a tear-down rebuild is the actual tearing down of the broken organization. Building a deep, functional and successful organization is the most difficult part of the plan and General Manager Kyle Davidson is earning his money the hard way.

The first part of the tear-down rebuild is getting rid of the decaying remnants. Davidson started that process the day he took over for disgraced former general manager Stan Bowman. This was something Bowman should have started years before his demise, but I digress.

This is not to say that Davidson did not have some difficult moves to make. Saying goodbye to legendary beloved Blackhawks in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews was met with a lot of pushback. Fans wanted to see Kane and Toews finish their careers as Blackhawks together. Toews may very well have ended his career as a Blackhawk, but Kane is with the Detroit Red Wings and is having a good year.


The Kane trade was the correct one, however. He was not going to accept ending up in the basement for two of his final seasons, playing babysitter to the next great NHL phenom with very little opportunity to chase one last Stanley Cup before his productive days are over. If you recall, Kane also held the Blackhawks hostage and would only accept a trade to a small percentage of teams—ultimately landing on just one team—which led to a less than desired return. Davidson turned a pending free agent who was in need of hip surgery into Martin Misiak and another 2025 fourth-round pick—not an ideal return for a future Hockey Hall of Famer, but it was also better than Kane walking for free on July 1.

Draft and trades

Davidson’s first big assignment was to build draft capital and replenish a barren prospect pool. His first big move was trading Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, a first-round draft pick that turned into Oliver Moore and a first-round draft pick in this June’s NHL Entry Draft. For the most part, Kyle from Chicago put on a master class in flipping players for draft capital.

Not only did Davidson stockpile draft picks, but he also used his plethora of salary cap space to take on some bad contacts that included sweeteners.

Trade PartnerAcquired AssetOutgoing Asset
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the Blackhawks2022 2nd round pick (MIN - #57 - Ryan Greene)Marc-André Fleury (Salary retained - 50%)
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the Blackhawks2024 5th round pickRyan Carpenter
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the Blackhawks2022 1st round pick (#7 - Kevin Korchinski)
2022 2nd round pick (#39 - Paul Ludwinski)
2024 3rd round pick
Alex Debrincat
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the Blackhawks2022 1st round pick (#13 - Frank Nazar)
2022 3rd round pick (#66 - Gavin Hayes)
Kirby Dach
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksGoaltender Petr Mrázek
2022 1st round pick (#25 - Sam Rinzel)
2022 2nd round pick (#38 - Fraser Minten)
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksForward Jason Dickinson
2024 2nd round pick
Riley Stillman
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksNikita Zaitsev
2023 2nd round pick (#44 - Roman Kantserov)
2026 4th round pick
Future Consideration
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksJoey Anderson
Pavel Gogolev
2025 1st round pick
2026 2nd round pick
Jake McCabe (50% retained)
Sam Lafferty
2024 5th round pick
2025 5th round pick
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksFrom ARI:
Vili Saarijärvi
From NYR:
Andy Welinski
2023 2nd round pick (#55 - Martin Misiak)
2025 4th round pick
Patrick Kane (50% retained)
Cooper Zech
2025 3rd round pick (from NYR)
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksAnton Khudobin
2025 2nd round pick
Max Domi
Dylan Wells
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the BlackhawksJosh Bailey
2026 2nd round pick
Future Consideration
ANALYSIS: Kyle Davidson's work has only begun with the Blackhawks2023 6th round pick (#167 - Milton Oscarson)
2024 2nd round pick
2023 2nd round pick (#51 - Carson Bjarnason)

It is pretty universally understood that Davidson did the best he could in breaking down an aging team that had been losing momentum for years. The teardown eventually paid off big, when the Blackhawks won the 2023 draft lottery and selected prized prospect Connor Bedard. The work has only begun, though. What does the Blackhawks general manager have ahead of himself?

Trade deadline

Taking on bad contracts to open up cap space for competing teams is not over. He should (and probably will) be taking calls from anyone and everyone who is looking to dump bad contracts before tomorrow’s trade deadline. Desperate teams will do just about anything to “right” a previous “wrong.”

Free agency

This might be the biggest point of contention in the rebuild process. When should Davidson go on the offensive in free agency? I am here to tell you that this summer is not it. It is too early.

Fourteen players on the current NHL roster will either fall off the roster or need to be re-signed this summer. Tyler Johnson, Colin Blackwell, Zach Sanford, Nikita Zaitsev, Jarred Tinordi, Jaycob Megna, MacKenzie Entwistle (RFA), Joey Anderson (RFA), Reese Johnson (RFA), Boris Katchouk (RFA), Taylor Raddysh (RFA), Alex Vlasic (RFA), Isaak Phillips (RFA) and Louis Crevier (RFA) will all become free agents on July 1. Ten other players who are currently with the Rockford IceHogs will also become either unrestricted or restricted free agents.

Also, almost $8 million in retained or recapture dollars will drop down to just over $3 million.

This will give Davidson more than $40 million in cap space, which has the casual fan’s eyes lit up like the Vegas strip. Do not fall into this trap. While they will need to re-sign some restricted free agents, namely Vlasic, most of the names on the list fail to move the needle but will be brought back simply to hit the salary cap floor and have enough to ice a full team.

Looking at the free agency list, there are definitely names that fans would recognize, but you have to keep some things in mind. Almost all of the players are in their very late 20s or early 30s and want long-term deals. That is an option that should absolutely not be on the table for Davidson. Tying up large amounts of money in older players for long periods of time rarely works out. The player has the advantage and the team will almost always overpay and overextend the term, in turn handcuffing their flexibility. Simply put, dumping your money into older 30-ish players who have already peaked is a recipe for disaster and does not fit the Blackhawks’ timeline.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Absolutely. He has to pick his spots, though. Focus on younger talent about to peak, or potentially an offer-sheet situation. A deal will take more work because you will likely have to trade for negotiating rights, but these younger players fit the timeline of the rest of your organization. This is where Davidson earns his salary.

This is the list that Davidson and the Blackhawks’ brass should be targeting. Targeting teams that have cap problems already like Vegas, Toronto, Colorado, Boston, Vancouver, St. Louis, Los Angeles or Philadelphia. If you are willing to overpay, do it for youth and hope, not memories.


Throwing away dollars for jersey sales or fake public relations stunts cannot be on the plate for the Blackhawks.

  • Believe in the process, and stick to being focused, calculated and shrewd
  • Take advantage of other team’s mistakes
  • Build around young talent
  • Avoid the long-term free agency traps on aging players until your timelines are aligned

This is where the young Blackhawks general manager makes a name for himself by either building a future dynasty through patience and focus, or falling short by getting lured into traps by impatience.  Your move, Kyle.



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