Rebuild made official for Hawks with 2022 Entry Draft moves
By Jim den Hollander
When Chicago Blackhawks fans awoke on July 7, they had little to look forward to that night with no first-round selections in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.
By the time they turned in for the night they had witnessed perhaps the busiest day in terms of moves in the team’s history.
For glass half full fans, setting a sure rebuilding path highlighted by not one, not two, but three selections among the first 32 in Montreal while also adding a veteran presence in goal had to have at least a few high fiving.
Glass half empty will mourn the loss of Alex Debrincat, 24 and coming off his best offensive season of five in the NHL and his second 40-plus goal campaign along with Kirby Dach, 21, a third overall pick in 2019 for the Hawks who scored nine goals and collected 26 points in 70 games this past season.
The team previously lost the first-round pick (sixth overall) to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of a deal that brought defenseman Seth Jones to the Windy City a year ago.
The team acquired the Ottawa Senators’ seventh overall selection as part of the trade for Debrincat. The Hawks will also get a second-round selection this season and a third-round selection in 2024.
The Hawks used the pick to select Kevin Korchinski, a 6’2, 185 lbs defender from Saskatchewan who collected four goals and 65 points with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, adding another six goals and 19 points in 25 Western Hockey League playoff games.
After that selection, the Blackhawks added another draft pick as the Montreal Canadiens, clearly interested in Kirby Dach, made a deal with the Islanders to acquire the 13th Overall selection from the New York Islanders. The deal included trading defenseman Alexander Romanov and a fourth-round selection in the fourth round this season.
The Habs immediately converted that pick and sent it, along with a third-round pick (66th overall) at this draft for Dach.
So, the Hawks’ brass made the trip to the podium again for the 13th overall selection, adding center Frank Nazar, a native of Mt. Clemens, MI who scored 15 goals and collected 35 points with the US National Development Team in 24 USHL contests on his way to a full season total 28 games and 70 points in 56 games.
Playing at the U-18 World Championship tournament, Nazar scored three goals and collected nine points in six games.
Near the end of the opening round, the Hawks who cleared Salary Cap space with the earlier moves, helped the Toronto Maple Leafs do the same while collecting a goaltender for the upcoming season.
The Leafs traded Petr Mrazek, a 30-year-old veteran from Czech Republic who has 11 years of experience with the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes and this past season in Toronto with 140 wins and a career .909 Save Percentage.
The Leafs also added its 25th overall pick in the first round in the trade and acquired the Hawks’ second round (38th overall) pick.
The Hawks entered the 2021-22 season looking to rebuild for what it hoped would be a quick turnaround and possibly another run at the Stanley Cup. Off the ice events have a slew of new faces at the helm and they have clearly made the decision that the best way to improve is to go through a longer and more planned out rebuild.
The timing seems right for a clearing out that could go deeper and include some key veterans that could be painful for Hawks fans, but it’s unfair to keep them on the roster of a team that will – for a while – move out of playoff contention.
Of course, the silver lining in all of this is the prospect of a first overall draft pick in 2023 and the addition of Connor Bedard, who many have already been paying attention to for a couple seasons.