Blackhawks’ top priority should be trading for 1st-round draft pick

The Blackhawks – a sub-team with a substandard probability pool – do not currently have a first-round selection in this year’s NHL Draft.

Frankly, this is a bad situation.

Much has been said and written about former General Manager Stan Bowman’s decision to drop the Hawks’ 2018 first-round pick (Adam Bockvist), the 2021 first-round pick (going from 12th to 32nd overall) and the 2022 first-round pick (though It was with the two highest protections) as the three main parts of Seth Jones’ trade.

No matter how this huge deal is analyzed retroactively, it cannot be undone. Interim General Manager Kyle Davidson—along with whatever outside talent is brought in to flesh out the Hawks’ hockey operations division—can’t move forward with the wreckage they inherited.

Accordingly, Davidson’s top priority between now and the March 21 trade deadline should be to regain the first-round pick.

The Hawks simply cannot afford to enter the impending era of Reconstruction without them. If they did, the rebuilding would be around just about anything – outside of Lukas Reichel, there might not be any more future Six Attackers (or best defense pair) anywhere in their pipeline. It will delay the whole process for at least a year.

There is a possibility that the miracle clouds will save their original choice. If the season ends on Friday, the eighth-to-last Falcons will have a 12% chance of winning the first or second lottery overall, triggering the first and second protection clauses and re-selecting them from the Blue Jackets. In this case, the Hawks will not only have a first-round pick, but they will also have the option to change the franchise.

However, Davidson must assume that an 88% possible alternative score will occur instead, and that he will need to get the number one player out of the hands of another team.

Trading Marc-Andre Fleury is the most logical and obvious path to consider. But even this process—and especially getting a first round, rather than a second, in return—will require creativity and negotiation.

The Hawks may need to keep up to 50% of Florey’s cap of $7 million to make it easier for his new team to fit in financially.

They will likely need to stir up competing trade offers from numerous suitors throughout the league to raise the price. Oilers (27th in team savings percentage), Avalanche (21st) and Capitals (18th) are some of the most reasonable dealers, although Avalanche—though perhaps the most logical of all—has no first Round in 2022. But could the Penguins or the Maple Leafs, who are 10th on the team but with relatively unproven goalkeepers, join the sweepstakes?

The Falcons might also have to sweeten the pot a bit, too, by tying one of the multiple depth players to Fleury to raise the payout over their first-round threshold.

Above all, they will have to convince Florey to accept the trade. He’s officially using a partial no-trade clause, but he might functionally have a bigger say, considering the Hawks’ supposed reluctance to override him after being persuaded to come to Chicago last summer. Florey said publicly on Thursday that he had not yet considered the possibility of a trade.

“[It’s] I haven’t thought yet,” he said. “All I want is to get this team to go into the playoffs. Honestly, that’s what’s going through my head right now. For me, it’s not worth looking too far ahead.”

There are a few other conceivable scenarios that could propel the Falcons into the first round, such as packing one of their picks into the third round with one of the other commercial bait players (Dylan Strom, Calvin de Haan or Dominic Kopalic), but it will be more difficult to implement.

None of the options will be simple or painless, but there will be no parting in choosing the first round from another team’s perspective. For their future, though, the Falcons must eventually find a partner who is willing to do just that — and then find a way to make it work.

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