The NHL Trade Deadline is now less than a month away, and the Blackhawks are wandering around the usual trade rumors. So will they do anything? And, if so, for what?
Well, let’s first look at what has been said by a formal source. GM Stan Bowman told Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald that he’s looking to bolster the roster by adding a center and/or defenseman. Subsequent reports from Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times indicate that the team is still trying to find the right mix.
There have been all sorts of fun reports surfacing lately. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun wondered on Monday if Kris Versteeg could be headed back to Chicago. With a cap number around $3M, the odds of that are very slim.
On Jan. 28, ESPN.com’s Rumor Mill (subscriber access only) said the following with regard to Sassone’s piece:
If the Blackhawks are interested in a center and defenseman, as reported, we suggest Christopher Higgins and Bryan McCabe of the Florida Panthers. Assuming the Panthers don’t make a charge up the standings in the next couple of weeks.
Honestly, the thought that the Hawks would deal for McCabe is laughable. Is he the right style of player? Perhaps. But his cap hit is over $5M, which means the Hawks would have to either package three players together for an aging defenseman or sacrifice their core by dealing someone like Brian Campbell, which makes zero sense for the 2010-11 season.
Higgins, meanwhile, is a left wing. If the Blackhawks are looking to add a center, the move would have be for a fourth line center (moving Jake Dowell and Ryan Johnson out of the mix) or for a second line center that would move Patrick Sharp to wing. A player like Higgins is neither, so that probably isn’t in the mix.
Sassone suggests Jack Skille, Viktor Stalberg and blueliner Nick Boynton could be available at the deadline. Based on the play of Nick Leddy, one would have to believe that Jordan Hendry could be available if the right defenseman was coming back in a deal as well. But what would any of those four players really bring back to impact the 2011 playoff push?
What continues to intrigue is the whispers around the league that the Blackhawks have at least listened when other GMs have inquired about Dave Bolland. Our good friends at The Fourth Period have had Bolland on their list of top available players for some time, and the list if interested teams continues to grow.
The question with Bolland is whether or not he’ll ever become the second line center the Hawks believe he can be. In a perfect world, the Hawks would skate Bolland between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on the second line, moving Dowell to the third (checking) line. But Bolland continues to win only 44 percent of his faceoffs and has struggled when given opportunities to step up. With a $3.375M cap hit, Bolland on the market could bring back a decent piece in return.
There have been two teams linked to the Blackhawks in trade rumors lately: the Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers.
Nobody has been willing to attach a legitimate name to any of the trade rumors centering around the Thrashers and Panthers to Chicago, but the consistent reality of both situations is their ties to the Blackhawks. Rick Dudley, the GM in Atlanta, worked for Chicago for years and made two blockbuster trades with the Hawks last summer. Dale Tallon is the GM with Florida now.
What is clear is that Bowman is actively in the market. What isn’t clear is who the Blackhawks are making available, and how much they are willing to add/subtract from their current cap position. Because the Hawks are in the middle of a heated playoff battle in the Western Conference, the next four weeks could be very interesting in Chicago.