Poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, the Chicago Blackhawks were expected to be sellers leading up to the March 21 trade deadline.
That opinion was reinforced by Kyle Davidson stating his intent to rebuild rather than retool after being officially announced as their new GM on Tuesday.
That will raise questions about the futures of long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who have a year remaining on their identical contracts. Davidson could attempt to re-sign both to extensions this summer but it remains to be seen if the aging stars want to be part of a rebuild at this stage of their careers.
The trade deadline is the more immediate issue for Davidson. Having served as interim GM for most of this season he has a handle on the market value for his trade candidates.
Marc-Andre Fleury could be his most valuable trade chip. The 37-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent this summer with a $7-million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list, though Davidson won't move Fleury unless he wants to be dealt.
TSN's Chris Johnston reports Fleury could be leaning toward finishing the season in Chicago. That could prevent Davidson from landing a 2022 first-round pick to replace the one his predecessor traded to Columbus last summer to acquire Seth Jones.
Free agents such as Dominik Kubalik, Calvin de Haan, Dylan Strome and Ryan Carpenter could also be shopped. Neither of them, however, will have Fleury's value in the trade market.
Rival teams have also reportedly expressed interest in Alex DeBrincat and Brendan Hagel. It's doubtful those young forwards will be moved unless Davidson gets substantial offers that include first-round picks.