The Blackhawks were looking for center depth, and on Monday got it. And with a day and a half remaining until the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday afternoon, general manager Stan Bowman will keep talking and listening.
It’s just uncertain if he’ll be dealing. And if he does, it doesn’t sound like anyone off the current roster will be part of the bargaining chips.
Bowman will see what shakes out in the next day and a half, but he repeated that he likes what the Blackhawks have right now, and is looking more to add to it than take away from it.
“I think the group here has really kind of earned the right to see what we can do as a group,” said Bowman of the 26-5-3 Blackhawks. “The strength of our team has been our consistency and our depth. And you don't rule anything out, but I think our focus is to keep this group together and try to add to it.”
When Bowman talked an hour before the Blackhawks dropped the puck against the Nashville Predators, he commented how few moves there had been thus far. The trading picked up within the hour, however.
The Los Angeles Kings acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for two draft picks. And Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for the Blues’ 2013 first-round draft pick, defenseman Mark Cundari and goalie Reto Barra.
So things are heating up. But how much do the Blackhawks need to do with a team that’s done what they’ve done thus far this season? Bowman said it’s all about what works with what the Blackhawks already have.
“I don't know if there will be a flurry (of trades). We'll have to see how that goes. It's our job to keep making those phone calls and we've had a lot of meetings internally about guys,” Bowman said. “It has to make sense for us."
The Blackhawks will keep weighing options. They’ll also look forward to the return of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who could be returning on Thursday or soon after. Their return certainly bolsters the Blackhawks heading down the stretch.
“I think some people would say those would be two nice trade deadline additions, to have Hossa and Sharp coming back. That’s one way to look at it,” Bowman said. “Add both those guys to the lineup, it certainly gives us a dangerous look offensively. They do more than just score goals. They play on penalty kill, power play and play all situations for us. We know they’ll be back soon, and that’s nice as well. Adding Handzus to that, with those two players, it’ll give our team a little bounce.”
The clock is ticking on the trade deadline. The Blackhawks added some veteran depth at center, a guy who can win in the face-off circle, too. They could add more, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be at the expense of giving something off the roster.
“We've had a good run with the guys we have so far,” Bowman said. “We don't' really want to change that mix. We're looking to add to it.”