The Chicago Blackhawks are busy today. After already completing one minor trade with the Montreal Canadiens, the Blackhawks have sent Evan Barratt to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Cooper Zech. The pair of young players will each report to their new minor league affiliates.
Barratt, 23, was a third-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2017 and has spent the last two seasons in the minor leagues after signing his entry-level contract. That contract expires at the end of this season and it is obvious that the new Chicago front office is focused on changing the entire organizational depth chart. The young forward was rather successful last year, with 28 points in 63 games, but hadn’t scored yet in his first two matches with Rockford this year.
He’ll join Lehigh Valley and try to prove to his new organization that he deserves a qualifying offer at the end of the year. Like the earlier trade, which sent Nicolas Beaudin back to where he grew up, Barratt is also headed home. The Bristol, Pennsylvania native played three years at Penn State and now gets a chance to play in front of friends and family once again.
Zech, meanwhile, is an undrafted defenseman that signed with the Flyers in 2021 after playing a few years on AHL contracts with the Providence Bruins. The 23-year-old is the kind of undersized player that can only climb the ladder by putting up big offensive numbers, but unfortunately only had 11 points in 53 games last season for Lehigh Valley.
While he may be a fine depth piece for Rockford, this is another player that could potentially be non-tendered by the Blackhawks at the end of the year. It should be noted that with so many draft picks coming into the organization, Chicago will need to keep contract slots to sign them open over the next few years. The moves today allow two players that are buried on the depth chart go play near their hometown, and hopefully make a bigger impact than they were ever going to have in Chicago.