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Blackhawks bolster forward group, acquire Ilya Mikheyev, Sam Lafferty's rights, draft pick from Vancouver

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

LAS VEGAS — The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired forward Ilya Mikheyev and forward Sam Lafferty's negotiating rights, along with a second-round pick in 2027 as a sweetener, from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2027, the team announced late Wednesday night.

It's a pure salary dump for the Canucks, who were desperately looking to create cap space ahead of the NHL Draft and free agency. The Canucks are retaining 15% of Mikheyev's $4.75 million cap hit; there are two years left on his contract.

Mikheyev also has a 12-team no-trade list that will carry over to the Blackhawks. The framework between Chicago and Vancouver had been ironed out hours earlier but the deal was contingent on whether or not Mikheyev would approve, which he ultimately did.

Mikheyev, 29, produced 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 78 games this past season for Vancouver. The year prior, he had 13 goals and 28 points in 46 games before undergoing season-ending ACL surgery.

Mikheyev was on pace for 50 points — which would've shattered his previous career-high of 32 — and was considered to be one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. There's a higher ceiling he can reach if he finds his previous skating form and plays his way onto a line with Connor Bedard.

A familiar face is also coming back to Chicago in Lafferty, who recorded 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 79 games with Vancouver. His 13 goals were a career-high, three of which were game-winners.

Lafferty spent two seasons with the Blackhawks from 2021-23, racking up 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points in 97 games over that stretch. He was a key part of the team's penalty kill and averaged a career-high 15:06 of ice time last season before he was eventually dealt to Toronto with Jake McCabe in a trade package that included a first-round pick going to Chicago.

Lafferty is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but it would be surprising if the player and team didn't agree on an extension before then. It sounds like both parties want to make it work.

Overall, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson recouped the second-round pick — albeit in 2027 — that he sent to the New York Islanders to move up from No. 20 to No. 18 overall and four spots in the second round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

More importantly, Davidson also added a pair of middle/bottom-six forwards in Mikheyev and Lafferty to bolster their group up front that's led by 18-year-old franchise cornerstone Bedard, which was and remains a top priority this offseason.

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