The Chicago Blackhawks are in preparations for what looks to be a brief training camp before beginning a shortened 2013 NHL season. 'Hawks from around the globe are headed for Chicago to commence preseason workouts.
However, there is no guarantee that all of the current Blackhawks will remain in town before the real action starts. Trade winds could blow into the Windy City, especially when you look at the 'Hawks blue line.
Chicago GM Stan Bowman acquired some experienced skaters for the back end following the end of last season. Sheldon Brookbank was signed back in July after four seasons in Anaheim. Then, days before the lockout began, Bowman signed veteran Michal Rozsival.
Johnny Oduya, who Chicago picked up before the trade deadline last February, signed a three-year deal in the offseason. With the money Bowman gave these three players, it would appear that they aren't here to sit.
Which Blackhawks player is most likely to be traded before the season starts?
When Nick Leddy is added to the 'Hawks roster in a matter of days, they will have eight defensemen on the roster. Depending on the health of Steve Montador, who was victimized by concussion symptoms for most of the latter half of the 2011-12 season, there is a potential logjam.
Niklas Hjalmarsson may still have some trade value to a team looking for a defender and would rid Bowman of $3.5 million in cap space. Might Chicago consider dealing him?
The answer may be more complex than just seeing an extra blueliner in the fold. Montador may not be available to skate even after being off the ice for almost a year. If healthy, he may be earmarked for a swap himself.
Last spring, Dylan Olsen looked like a potential third-pairing option. However, Olsen has been just awful at times in Rockford and hasn't always been a fixture in the IceHogs lineup. Adam Clendening is not ready to take on NHL forwards. Period.
Ryan Stanton is the closest thing to NHL defensive help under contract with the 'Hawks in the minors. Along with the health of Montador, Bowman may stand pat unless he can get a cheap, reliable defender in return.
On the other side of the puck, Bowman could attempt to find a taker for Rostislav Olesz, who is coming off another knee injury. Good luck with that, Stan.
From there, it may be a matter of determining who the odd players out are on Chicago's bottom-six forwards. Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell or whomever of the dwellers of coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse last season could be hearing some traveling music.
It's easy to propose a trade on paper, but it's quite another situation to make it happen in real time. Nagging injuries could mark the early weeks of the season, so perhaps Bowman stands pat until more is revealed in a month or so.