The Chicago Blackhawks are gearing up for a very big trade deadline. How they handle the next few weeks is going to change the entire landscape of their rebuild. They could be bad enough to win the NHL’s lottery and they can also land some high-end assets for the future.

One team that they can model their rebuild after is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Obviously, the Leafs can’t get past the Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins in the first round but they at least have a chance in the playoffs pretty much every year.

They did that by building through the draft. William Nylander, Morgan Reilly, and Mitch Marner were all really high draft picks but things really started to change when they won the draft lottery in 2016. That gave them the right to select Auston Matthews with the first overall pick.

Since then, the Leafs have continued to build and build up to what they are right now. That is the team you saw destroy the Hawks on Wednesday night by a final score of 5-2. The Leafs got production from all of their big boys and were in a different league from this Hawks team.

The Chicago Blackhawks are nowhere near the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It took them nine seconds of the game clock to assert their dominance as William Nylander scored that quickly. The Hawks fought back to get it tied at one but there was no doubt that the Leafs were the tone-setters from that moment on. The Hawks have a long way to go before they are that good.

This loss is just another in a long list of them this season but it is one of those losses that show just how far away the Hawks are from being an elite team in this league. They need to play their cards right over the next few years in order to get back to that.

Is Connor Bedard going to be as good as Auston Matthews? That is really hard to say but he is the first “generational talent” to come out since Matthews and Connor McDavid went in back-to-back drafts.

If he is and the Hawks get him, however, things will start to improve quickly. If you are skeptical about the rebuilding process, you don’t have to look much farther than the Leafs to understand why teams do it.

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