We’ll know by 2 p.m. on Wednesday whether Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has anything significant up his sleeve or if the acquisition of center Michal Handzus on Monday is it for the first-place team in the Western Conference.
Bowman was talking to teams Tuesday as it is believed the Hawks still want to add to their depth on defense.
Meanwhile, forget about Dallas center Derek Roy coming to Chicago. He went to Vancouver on Tuesday for a second-round draft pick and defenseman Kevin Connauton, who started the season with the Wolves.
Dallas also traded Jaromir Jagr to Boston for two prospects and a conditional pick, which can be no worse than a second-rounder.
The 36-year-old Handzus, who can play center or left wing and has a faceoff winning percentage of 55.6, is expected to be at practice Wednesday and in the lineup Thursday against St. Louis.
Jonathan Toews, the only Hawks center who consistently wins faceoffs, likes the addition of Handzus.
“He’s just a big body, he can skate well and he’s a veteran guy,” Toews said. “I’ve played against him a lot the last couple years and he’s always one of those guys who is tough to go against because he’s strong and smart defensively. I think a couple of guys in this locker room know him a little bit. Guys like that are just going to add more depth to our team and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Handzus was a healthy scratch the last six games in San Jose, where he had 1 goal and 1 assist in 28 games.
“I didn’t play because that’s the coach’s decision,” Handzus said. “I’m a different player than when I was there (with the Hawks in 2006-07), little bit older, but I think I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I’m just going to try and help the team however I can.”
The Hawks like Handzus’ size (6-feet-5, 215 pounds), his versatility and the fact he kills penalties and wins faceoffs.
“It’s good to have options,” Bowman said. “The strength of our team, really, has been the ability of guys to move around a little bit. You have to be prepared in a playoff push to have guys step up and play different positions. Michal can play the wing and has the smarts and the experience to play a couple positions.”
Bowman says the playoff races still are too close and wide open for there to be a lot of movement.
“A lot of teams think if they can get on a run in the last month here they can get in so they’re hesitant to start trading players away,” Bowman said. “We’ve had a lot of discussions internally and it has to make sense for us.”
In other words, the Hawks and Bowman remain reluctant to trade away prospects such as Dylan Olsen, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin for a veteran rental.
Handzus will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“We know him from having had him here before, even though it was a short stint (eight games),” Bowman said. “We know his character and his motivation and his drive. He’s a great teammate and a competitive guy. He knows a number of our players and is pretty good friends with Marian Hossa, going back to Slovakian connection.”
If Handzus is the only addition, Bowman is confident and comfortable with this group of players that is 27-5-3.
“I believe in our group, I really do,” Bowman said. “We have guys from within our system that we can add if we don’t add players from outside and I think that’s important. They have a lot of energy and a lot of excitement about contributing at the NHL level.”
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