NHL Trade Rumors: Will the Chicago Blackhawks Grab a Defenseman or Goaltender?

James MaahsContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2012

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 02:  Pavel Kubina #13 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates off the ice after the game against the Boston Bruins on December 2, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Lightning 8-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Lots of rumors have been swirling around in recent weeks as to who will be available for the Chicago Blackhawks come the NHL trade deadline.

But the more important question is, what will the Blackhawks need more come the deadline: defense or goaltending?

Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have both been under-performing as of late, while the defense has picked up a little bit of pace. But the Blackhawks may just take what they can get in a market that looks to be sparse. 

The hottest rumors out there right now include Ryan Miller an a person of interest to the Blackhawks, and that defenseman Pavel Kubina will be available to all teams willing to make a trade.

The Blackhawks are in need of both defense and better goaltending, but it will be in their best interest to go after a defenseman.

Hal Gill was high up on GM Stan Bowman's list of possible defenseman. The Nashville Predators were able to pick Gill up recently from Montreal. This has also lead to speculation that the Predators will look to move Shea Weber or Ryan Suter by the trade deadline. 

That is pure speculation and, if true, the Chicago Blackhawks would have zero chance at obtaining either of those defenseman in a trade. Most notably because Nashville will have no interest in trading with a central division foe.

With Hal Gill off the market, that puts Pavel Kubina at the top of the list for the moment. Kubina would be an ideal choice for this Blackhawks' roster. A big shut-down defenseman is just what the Blackhawks need in order to ease the pressure on Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

A couple of draft picks and a possible fourth-line player may need to be put on the trading table in order to gain interest from Tampa Bay, but it's a small price to pay for a short term gain, and could pay huge dividends later in the season and in the playoffs.

The Ryan Miller trade is also a gigantic rumor, but worth looking into. It is expected that Buffalo will ask for no less than a core player and draft picks in exchange for the 31-year-old goaltender. Do the Blackhawks really have a goaltending problem? It's a fair question to ask.

Of course, trading a core offensive player in exchange for a goalie may not translate into more wins.

Defense is the highest priority right now for Stan Bowman. Expect a trade to be made for a defenseman.