In acquiring 22-year-old Michael Frolik in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a former No. 1 draft pick with high-end skill.
Before they went out and snapped a two-game losing streak with an important 4-1 win over Edmonton at Rexall Place, the Hawks sent winger Jack Skille and forward prospects Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan to the Panthers in exchange for Frolik and goalie prospect Alexander Salak.
Frolik, the 10th pick in the 2006 draft, has been playing wing in Florida, but the Hawks likely will use him at center.
"He's got that versatility, but I think at this point it's premature to say where exactly he's going to play," said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman. "It's safe to say having a guy that can play either left wing or right wing or in the middle is another tool at Joel (Quenneville's) disposal.
"We're going to probably figure that out over the next couple weeks once we get him in and see what kind of chemistry develops."
Frolik has a world of potential and scored 21 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons with the Panthers, totaling 45 and 43 points.
This season Frolik has 8 goals and 21 assists in 52 games.
"He's been able to do a lot in his young career already with back-to-back 20-goal seasons," Bowman said. "We think he fits into the future of our franchise with his offensive ability and his versatility. He's really just kind of coming into his own in the NHL.
"The thing we like about his offensive side is he's put up offensive numbers already his first two seasons and also plays a variety of roles, which is tough for young players to do. He's already accomplished quite a bit at a young age."
Bowman said the deal wasn't made because of the Hawks' recent losing skid.
"I've been working on a trade for a long time and it finally came to the point where both sides were ready to make it happen," Bowman said. "The timing of it is not really coinciding with anything other than we feel we want to improve our team and this certainly does that.
"We got a player who has a pretty good pedigree at a young age."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Frolik is on the last year of his entry-level contract with a cap hit of $1.275 million.
Skille never lived up to lofty expectations with the Hawks after being the seventh pick in the 2005 draft.
Skille, who told reporters he still considers himself a top-six forward, was mostly inconsistent in 49 games this season with 7 goals and 10 assists in a limited role. Nonetheless, Panthers GM Dale Tallon is happy to have him.
"Jack is a high-character, big, strong player who will add a physical presence to our lineup and also possesses the ability to score goals," said Tallon, who drafted Skille while GM of the Hawks.
Bowman may not be done dealing if the right depth defenseman becomes available before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
"We're not going to shy away from making another trade if it's there to be made," Bowman said. "We're not going to stop trying to make something happen. Hopefully it'll work."
Salak also was a key to the deal for the Hawks. The 24-year-old goalie is considered a top prospect and one of the best goaltenders in the Swedish Elite League, where he leads in save percentage (.925) and shutouts (6) for Farjestad BK.
Salak spent last season in the American Hockey League, finishing 29-14-0 with a .910 save percentage.
In beating the Oilers, the Hawks got goals from Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell and 2 from Patrick Kane to back the strong goaltending of Corey Crawford.
Sharp's goal was his 27th and second in the last 10 games. Bickell scored his second goal in 14 games.