CHICAGO – The first trade for the Blackhawks before the NHL’s trade deadline on March 3 didn’t actually involve sending a player to another team.
Instead, general manager Kyle Davidson is taking on a defenseman with a high salary in order to add more draft capital to his rebuilding arsenal.
The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Nikita Zaitsev along with a 2023 second round pick and a 2026 fourth round pick from the Senators for future considerations.
This trade is an example reversal of the trend of the dynasty years of the 2010s, when the team had to shed salary to stay under the cap by giving up players for little return. Now the team is taking on salary in hopes of picking up prospects and draft picks.
This deal helps them do that as the pickup of a second rounder for 2023 gives the Blackhawks ten selections for the upcoming draft.
Zaitsev has a $4.5 million cap hit this season and the 2023-2024 campaign as he finishes out a seven-year, $31 million contract that he signed with the Maple Leafs in 2017. The defenseman has been with the Senators since the 2019-2020 season when he joined them through a trade.
It’s a been a rough year for the defenseman, who Ottawa tried to trade before the start of the season but couldn’t find any takers. After he was waived and no one signed him, the Senators demoted him to their AHL affiliate before recalling him in December.
Zaitsev has played in 28 games this year with five assists with his last game on the ice with the Senators coming on February 20.
“We are getting an NHL caliber defenseman and acquiring very valuable draft capital in this upcoming draft and beyond,” said Davidson in a statement from the team. “Nikita gives us added depth on the right side and we anticipate him joining us soon.”