Most Blackhawks fans these days will tell you that the team needs drastic changes like Shakira needs belly dancing lessons. Of course, most fans won't say it in exactly that manner but regardless...
But how about drastic improvements?
With the trade deadline only four days away, all is quiet in this team's Western Conference team's front.
Sure, names have been thrown around by local beat writers. Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald suggests that players such as Tampa Bay's Jeff Halpern, Toronto's Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov, Anaheim's Sami Pahlsson, Phoenix's Steve Reinprecht and Colorado's Ian Laperriere might be on the Hawks radar.
While I like what Moore has brought to the table for the beleagured Maple Leafs thus far this season, he's not exactly a proven, known commodity in the NHL. After that, the list only gets worse.
This is the type of bulking up for a strong playoff run that Hawks fans are looking at?
According to Sassone, Anaheim GM Bob Murray will be attending Tuesday's game when the Ducks and Hawks square off. This has led to mild speculation that the Hawks, also said to be interested in a defensive D-man, might be looking to make a move for stud rearguard Chris Pronger.
This is the type of move that, to me at least, suggests that the Hawks are serious about not only making the playoffs, but making a long run. To me, this is exactly what the Hawks should be looking for as the deadline approaches.
If this team is to contend, whether it be this year or down the road, the young players on the Hawks simply must get playoff experience. They need as much of it as possible and they need it as soon as possible. If trading for a high end defensemen helps the Hawks go deeper in the playoffs, thus allowing the kids to get more experience, than I am all in favor of such a move.
In other news, the Philadelphia Flyers are rumored to be interested in Hawks backstopper Nikolai Khabibulin. Trading Khabibulin to the Flyers makes perfect sense. The Flyers can't be confident going into the playoffs, as loaded with talent as they are, with such a glaring weakness in net.
Martin Biron has a goals against around three and his save percentage is barely over 90. If they have true cup aspirations this year, they'll have to do better than those mediocre numbers between the pipes.
I know that some Hawks fans love having Khabibulin as a security blanket of sorts, but Huet has been just as strong this season (albeit weaker in the last two games) and Antti Niemi has to start showing Hawks brass what he can do in the NHL at some point. Why not now?
The Flyers could ship Biron back to the Hawks (where he would most likely get waived and sent to the minors, thus clearing 3.5 million in cap space) as well as winger Mike Knuble to make the contracts balance. All three contracts in this idea would expire at the end of the season.
The other rumor, ironically containing Chris Pronger, would have the Hawks sending Khabibulin to the Flyers, Philadelphia sends uber-talented center Danny Briere to the Ducks, who would in turn send Pronger to the Blackhawks.
Interesting, albeit unlikely.
On a final note... What will the Blackhawks do with Martin Havlat? While it's true that playoff-bound teams don't usually trade players of his skill and ability at the deadline, one has to wonder how those contract negotiations are going.
If Havlat waits until after the deadline to make a decision, his value will increase by leaps and bounds. Now the Hawks would be left with either resigning him or losing him for nothing, as trading him away at anything approaching his current value would no longer be an option.
Though highly unlikely, the Jordan Staal for Martin Havlat rumor from last year's trade deadline seems to have resurfaced. While I loathe the idea of trading away such a talented player, Staal would certainly fill the void at center while adding a solid level of grit and defensive awareness to the top six.
Regardless, while Dale Tallon would most likely love to play it safe at the deadline, perhaps adding only a small piece and retaining all of his coveted prospects and draft picks, he must realize that this deadline will not only have repercussions for the Hawks playoff chances, but for the off-season and the future of the franchise as well.
Tallon has two high caliber players with expiring contracts that he could easily lose for nothing at the end of the year. He also has three highly talented core players in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to resign after next year. Those three players will always be in the back of his mind when it comes to trades.
He has a void at center, especially in regards to the face-offs. Olli Jokinen is rumored to be available on the high end.
The Hawks GM also has a 4th place team that's rebuilding ahead of schedule that could possibly contend this year and a fan base that knows it.
No pressure Dale, and good luck going into Wednesday. As always, the eyes of the Hawk's faithful will be watching. The future of the franchise rests on your lonely shoulders.
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