Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach on draft day

Kyle Davidson, the Chicago Blackhawks’ first-time general manager, must really like standing on the stage.

After a dizzying array of draft-day moves, he made the trip to the microphone at Bell Center in Montreal three times Thursday night during the first round to announce the selection of three new Hawks: defensemen Kevin Korchinski and Sam Rinzel and forward Frank Nazar.

And the Hawks started the day with no picks in the first round.

Davidson grabbed the spotlight in NHL circles with his opening-draft act.

To pull such a feat, however, the Hawks traded All-Star winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday for the Nos. 7 and 39 picks this year and a third-rounder in 2024.

Then in another draft-day stunner, the Hawks sent Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens for the 13th and 66th picks, which involved the Habs sending defenseman Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders for the 13th pick.

The Hawks spent the seventh pick on 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman Korchinski of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. NHL Central Scouting calls him “a high-end offensive defenseman who is very skilled and can generate scoring chances in all situations. Excellent on the power play.”

“We truly got our guy,” Davidson said during the broadcast. “That was one of the main things we wanted to do today was get Kevin Korchinski, and we got him.

“The combination of size, skating, the entire package, we were really really sold on it. We’re just ecstatic.”

As jubliant as the Hawks were about Korchinski, they really satisfied their need for speed with right-shooting forward Nazar.

Central Scouting says he’s an “excellent skater who can generate speed quickly, processes the game very well and can create chances on the fly. A consistent scoring threat who moves well laterally when carrying the puck and is hard to contain.”

“Oh, my God, this is unreal,” Nazar told Emily Kaplan during the ESPN broadcast. “It’s like you’re in a dream and you’re not going to end up waking up. It just keeps going.”

To cap off the night, the Hawks acquired the 25th overall pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In exchange, they helped the Leafs free up cap space by taking on veteran goalie Petr Mrázek’s salary ($3.8 million through 2023-24) and sending a second-round pick (38th) along with it.

Rinzel, another big blue liner at 6-4 and 177 pounds, plays like Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo, according to Central Scouting.

He’s “a high-end skater for his size with a fluid stride and very good mobility,” according to his scouting report. “A very good first pass with good vision finding open teammates. … Defends with a good, strong stick.”

Asked about joining the rebuild, Rinzel said during the broadcast: “I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for me and a lot of players to make an impact.”

The Hawks also started the offseason with no goalies under contract and now have Mrazek, with Kevin Lankinen still unsigned.

But the day was all about the long-term future, not next season.

The Hawks were happy to snag two of their three first-round picks within lottery range, but it was costly.

Davidson said of departing players DeBrincat and Dach: “They’re good players. DeBrincat’s a little more established in his career and he’s a highly productive players, but you know what, in our rebuild we need assets, we need young assets and we need to build up that prospect base. We thought that was the best way to go and we’ve got our process and we’re sticking to it, and we’re happy with how today’s going.”

Dach had nine goals and 17 assists in 70 games for the Hawks last season, but the center has yet to up to the expectations of the third pick in the 2019 draft.

All told, what DeBrincat and Dach bring to the ice has been outweighed by the Hawks’ desire to assemble a stable of picks and prospects for their yearslong rebuild.

The Hawks closed the chapter on DeBrincat’s five-season run in which the 2016 second-round pick emerged into their top goal-producer and heir apparent to Patrick Kane.

Davidson reportedly turned down several offers for DeBrincat, who scored 41 goals last season, until he got the wow deal he was looking for, which will serve as the building blocks for a yearslong rebuild.

“We thank Alex for his tireless dedication to the Blackhawks organization over the last five seasons and wish him the best in Ottawa,” Davidson said in a team statement. “It was an incredibly difficult decision to trade a player of Alex’s caliber. We feel as if this move sets the Blackhawks up for future success by giving us additional flexibility and future talent. Securing this early of a first-round pick for tonight and an additional second-round selection tomorrow allows us to fortify our prospect base with high-end players who we expect to be a difference makers in the coming years.”

DeBrincat had 160 goals and 147 assists in 368 games over five seasons with the Hawks. He was an All-Star last season for the first time in his career.

On the surface, it wasn’t the haul that Brandon Hagel’s trade fetched — two conditional first-round picks and two prospects from the Tampa Bay Lightning — but Davidson had been working furiously to get a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

Several factors paved the way for the DeBrincat trade to happen.

The Seth Jones trade in July, executed by Davidson’s predecessor, Stan Bowman, required the Hawks to send their first-round pick this year to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since Davidson replaced Bowman in late October, he has lamented losing that pick — especially now that he has embarked on a rebuild.

And with that decision to hit the reset button on the franchise, the Hawks extended the clock on returning to Stanley Cup contention.

Another mitigating factor: The Hawks needed to find a trade partner that not only had the assets they wanted but the space to accommodate DeBrincat’s cap hit both now and in the future.

Even with DeBrincat being 24, the Hawks might have risked seeing him pass his prime before they’re competitive again. Also, the Hawks have said they want to be cautious with their spending, and a qualifying offer to DeBrincat would cost them $9 million.

The Hawks also are trying to build up picks and prospects, so trading DeBrincat served two purposes: adding a two more picks in the first two rounds this year and — with the loss of their most dynamic winger besides Kane — putting them firmly in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes in 2023.

Amateur scouting director described Bedard as a “generational” talent as well as Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli, giving the Hawks three chances at a franchise player if they lose enough games to end up in the top three of the lottery.

But that might be little consolation, at least in the early going, for Hawks fans who’ve embraced DeBrincat as the future of the franchise.

The question is: Is the return worth the cost?

Part of Davidson’s self-imposed mandate was to restock with a lot of picks and/or prospects, so mission accomplished there.

The Hawks have two first-round picks (one of them top-10 protected) and two second-round picks in 2023 and two first-round picks (one, top-10 protected) and two third-round picks in 2024.

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If the Hawks don’t make any other moves, they could end up with 19 picks in the first three rounds over the next three seasons.

The Hawks started this roster revolution with Korchinski, who has drawn comparisons to Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore.

Korchinski checks a few boxes for the Hawks. He has size, quickness, can jump in on the rush and man the power play, yet he still is considered as a strong defender. He ranked third in the WHL in assists (61) and placed second among defensemen with 65 points in 67 games, including four goals.

The Hawks have a number of young defensemen between Chicago and Rockford vying for ice time, but amateur scouting director Mike Doneghey hinted last week that the Hawks wouldn’t pass up on a blue liner with offensive skill just to fill the Hawks other major need: centers.

“If your defensemen can skate fast, they can get pucks fast and they can transition it faster up to the forwards, who (ideally) are fast (too),” Doneghey told the Tribune. “You could take away — if you’re a fast-skating defenseman — time and space (from opponents) in the neutral zone and stop the rush before it even enters the zone.”

Nazar, a 5-10, 175-pound Detroit native, put up 28 goals and 42 assists in 56 games for the USA Hockey’s national team development program’s under-18 squad.

Central Scouting gives him high marks for hockey IQ and compares him to Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.

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