Kyle Davidson was praised Tuesday, at his introductory news conference, for his open-mindedness toward both decision-making processes and cultural change.
On Wednesday, the now-cemented Blackhawks general manager asserted he’ll be open-minded toward trade negotiations in the coming weeks, too.
As the Hawks initiate phase one of their rebuild — converting their current players into future assets — Davidson realizes he’s somewhat beholden to what other teams offer, but he’s going to listen earnestly to any and all such offers ahead of the March 21 deadline.
“We’re at our current spot now because, when you’re trying to win, when you’re trying to maintain [winning], you take from the future to build the present,” he said. “We’ve taken a little bit from the future and there’s been no next wave. There’s been not enough of a push of talent coming up through the ranks to support the core that’s been here for so long.
“Moving forward, the only way you get assets is by giving up something of value. That’s kind of how it works. Or you can wait long enough that you make the draft picks that eventually come along. But if you want to infuse some volume and some depth of talent into your system more quickly, then you’ve got to move some pieces. I’ll be open to anything.”
He dismissed the concept of “untouchable” players outright.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews do wield full no-trade clauses, Marc-Andre Fleury wields a partial clause supplemented by de facto full clause the Hawks promised him when they acquired him and Seth Jones and Jake McCabe wield partial clauses, so Davidson’s freedom is restricted when it comes to those veterans. But outside of them, there are no set-in-stone certainties.
“Whether it’s realistic or not, there’s always a situation where you might get offered something that you can’t turn down,” Davidson said. “In reality, other than those who are contractually obligated to be untouchable, no one is.
“We’re not in a position where we can hold anything back. And I’m not saying that everyone’s available; that’s definitely not what I’m saying. But we just have to be open-minded. We have to consider anything that someone comes to us with, and we will do that.”
Davidson said he has primarily conducted general surface-level, “fact-finding” conversations with other teams so far, although sources indicate some of those conversations have progressed a bit further than that.
With Fleury, Davidson confirmed he and Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, have talked about the goalie’s future. The Hawks respect that “if [Fleury] were to move, he would like to have a chance to win,” and Davidson would be OK with Fleury sticking in Chicago the rest of the season because their current players are “learning a heck of a lot” from him.
With Brandon Hagel, who straddles that untouchable line, Davidson said it’s “pretty obvious that he would be a desirable player around the league” but that it’s equally desirable for the Hawks to keep him.
And with Dominik Kubalik, who might be the most likely Hawks player to be traded this month, and Dylan Strome, who falls in a similar bucket as Kubalik as a pending restricted free agent undergoing an up-and-down season, Davidson said he’ll weigh the “shorter-term benefits of either keeping players or moving them for futures, or if they’re going to have a role moving forward.”
“These guys bring value: they bring value to us, and they bring value to other teams as well,” he added. “But we’re happy with where they’re at. Dominik can get hot anytime, and Dylan has been hot in recent memory.”
Davidson unsurprisingly also said he’d like to recoup a first-round draft pick if possible — the Hawks’ own pick will disastrously go to the Blue Jackets unless it wins the lottery — and wants to particularly focus on replenishing the nearly dry forward prospect pool.