Brandon Hagel has been one of the most loved members of the Chicago Blackhawks during one of their darkest periods.
Controversy after controversy has struck the Blackhawks over the past few months. However, after Kyle Davidson took over as general manager, he made the organization’s future sound promising. On March 18, Davidson took his first colossal shot towards that future.
Hagel has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning alongside two fourth-round picks for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh.
Brandon Hagel is now a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The return on this trade is absolutely massive for the Blackhawks. Hagel has undoubtedly been an important player for his former team, but passing up two first-round picks and two NHL players would be a horrible idea, especially because of what these first-round picks could mean.
The Lightning sent first-round picks for next year and the year after, not for this year. As of now, Tampa Bay is a guaranteed playoff team. There is no doubt that they will be making the playoffs. However, while unlikely, there is a chance that the Lightning will begin declining next season. There have already been hints that this is possible through the inconsistent play of Andrei Vasilevskiy and the continued trade of first-round picks. However, those two picks are top-10 protected.
Raddysh and Katchouk are decent players to have added in this trade as well. They are not exactly top-tier prospects, but they still have a lot of untapped potential. Perhaps in a larger role in Chicago, they can find the next step of their game.
Regardless, the Blackhawks have begun their shift towards a rebuild mentality. Without a first-round pick this year, they will still be stuck in a rough spot when the draft approaches.
It would not be very surprising to see Davidson make more moves before the trade deadline is over. Anything the Blackhawks can do to expedite the process, they should do. Moving Hagel hurts, but it is a good first step towards the long-awaited rebuild.