The NHL trade deadline is a little more than four weeks away on Feb. 28, but if history repeats itself Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman might not want to wait that long to find help for his inconsistent team.
It was well before the deadline last season that Bowman made his biggest move, acquiring defenseman Kim Johnsson and prospect Nick Leddy from Minnesota on Feb. 12 in exchange for Cam Barker.
While Johnsson suffered a concussion a month later and didn’t help in the run to the Stanley Cup, getting Leddy has proved to be a steal for the Blackhawks.
“We’re not saying we’re going to wait a month, if there’s a deal to be made over the next two weeks,” Bowman said. “Things start to pick up around now, and between now and the next four or five weeks is when it all happens.
“I’m not hesitant to make a move before the deadline, but sometimes you have to ride it out and wait until the deadline.”
It’s clear the Hawks need and want to do something, not only to improve their chances of making the playoffs, but to be considered a contender in the postseason.
Bowman’s wish list includes adding another defenseman and a center for the stretch run, but it’s not going to be easy with the Hawks right up against the salary cap.
The Hawks would appear to have a few players they likely would be willing to offer up as trade bait, a list that could include forwards Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg and defenseman Nick Boynton for starters.
Four defensemen who might become available because of their status as unrestricted free agents this summer are Florida’s Bryan McCabe, Montreal’s Roman Hamrlik, Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen and Ottawa’s Chris Phillips — though this is not to say there is any interest on the Hawks’ side.
“You’re always going to look for depth because we’ve been fortunate and had a good run here with health on the back end,” Bowman said. “You look around and there are teams that are missing four defensemen. If that happens, we’ve got young kids, but when you’re making a stretch run you can never be too deep on the back end.
“Up front it’s the same thing,” Bowman said. “You always want to be a little heavier at center if you can. I wouldn’t say that we’re only going to look for that, but if you’re asking me, in a perfect world, you’re looking at depth on defense and up the middle.”
The 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday sent the Hawks into the all-star break on a two-game losing streak.
Nevertheless, Bowman has seen some positive signs of late and says the goal remains to be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
“We have high expectations,” Bowman said. “We’ve played better over the last month, but we still haven’t played up to our internal expectations. We’re not satisfied, although we see it going in the right direction so we’re not going to be retooling this team dramatically.
“There might be a change or two, but we believe in the group and I think there’s more to come from what we have here, and it’s starting to come,” said Bowman. “I like the way we’ve played. You have to look at the big picture; you can’t micromanage this game or that game. In general, we’ve played good hockey over the last stretch here and if we continue it bodes well, but we can always look at tweaking personnel-wise to make us even batter.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.