The Chicago Blackhawks may have to break up their core group in the near future.
Not because of salary cap concerns, but rather because it may be the only option for GM Stan Bowman if he wants to legitimately make his team into a Stanley Cup contender.
It was presumed at one time that the core group of guys for the Blackhawks would lead them to another Stanley Cup win, but that looks less and less likely with each passing season.
The Blackhawks' core group is made up of five key players: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. All five played pivotal roles in the team's 2010 Stanley Cup win.
But over the past two seasons weaknesses on the team have been exposed. First and foremost would be the lack of depth on the blue line.
Youngsters Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen can only be expected to play so much in pressure situations for the Hawks.
In addition, the third and fourth lines need a little more skill and defensive depth, in order to prevent other team's top lines from getting prime scoring chances.
But one of the Hawks' most pressing needs is that of a second line center.
Bowman has little leverage if he chooses not to give up the farm team. In any case, that means he will have to pony up one of his core players if he wants to help fill some larges voids in the Blackhawks' lineup.
Both are due to become free agents but are likely to be dealt before free agency starts on July 1st.
Breaking up the core may be exactly what this team needs in order for them to make another run at a Stanley Cup title.
Time is running short Mr. Bowman, make the most of it.
Follow Featured Columnist James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest Blackhawks' news and updates.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!