5 Realistic Trade Targets for Chicago Blackhawks in 2013-14
The Olympic break will give every team in the NHL a chance to evaluate what it needs to improve in the immediate future.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks cannot rest on their laurels and believe they are going to survive the brutal Western Conference regular season play and get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. General manager Stan Bowman knows his team needs some fine tuning (a second-line center and depth on defense, for example), and he will try to improve the roster in any way he can.
He will not gut his roster in order to make a trade. However, as the Blackhawks head into their final five games before the Olympic break, the team is not playing well recently. They are 0-2-2 in the last four, with road games against Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix coming up.
A poor showing against the Western Conference's best teams could force Bowman to make some more significant moves.
Bowman will not be looking for superstars, but he will try to find role players who can give his team a lift.
(All salary and contract information is courtesy of CapGeek.com.)
C David Legwand, Nashville Predators
2013-14 stats: Nine goals, 28 assists, minus-eight rating
Contract status: Final season of six-year, $27 million contract
Overview: The Blackhawks have had question marks at the No. 2 center position since the start of the season. The Blackhawks recently recalled Brandon Pirri from their Rockford (AHL) affiliate to man that role, but there's no reason to think that he will satisfy their needs at that position.
David Legwand appears to be the type of center who could man that role for the Blackhawks. He has an expiring contract, and the 33-year-old has the experience and know-how to fit in well with a powerful team like the Blackhawks.
Legwand is not a superstar, but he would not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the circumstances of playing for a title, and he would seem to be a decent fit for head coach Joel Quenneville.
C Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets
2013-14 stats: 13 goals, 18 assists, minus-11 rating
Contract status: Final season of two-year, $9 million contract
Overview: The Winnipeg Jets have been hot ever since Paul Maurice took over the head coaching position from Claude Noel.
They have gotten a big bump from the move behind the bench, but that doesn't mean they are legitimate playoff contenders. At some point, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to consider all trade possibilities to improve his team for the future.
Moving Olli Jokinen may be one of those moves. Jokinen, 35, is a savvy player who is no longer at his peak, but he is capable of playing well as a No. 2 center. Jokinen can find the soft spots in a defense, is a deft passer and can handle himself in the faceoff circle, although he should improve off his current 47.2 percent success rate.
Jokinen could be a decent addition for the Blackhawks and give them more strength at the pivot position.
LW Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres
2013-14 stats: 15 goals, 17 assists, minus-seven rating
Contract status: Final season of three-year, $9.4 million contract
Overview: While the need at center is greater than the need at left wing, the Blackhawks could use some help at this position.
Once you get past Patrick Sharp as the left wing on the Blackhawks' top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, the other left wings are not stellar.
The Blackhawks reacquired Kris Versteeg earlier this season, and he has been ordinary with nine goals and 16 assists in 54 games. Third line center Bryan Bickell has been in Quenneville's doghouse recently. Despite his size and strength, he has not contributed this year the way he did in last year's Stanley Cup run.
Moulson has speed and creativity, and he can fire the puck. He could give the Blackhawks a shot in the arm and give their second or third line an offensive boost.
D Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils
2013-14 stats: Eight goals, 20 assists, plus-3 rating
Contract status: One-year, $3 million contract
Overview: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook form the Blackhawks' top defense duo and are as strong as any pair in the league. The No. 2 pairing of Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson is one of the most underrated duos in the league.
However, the Blackhawks could use help with their No. 3 pairing and defensive depth. Nick Leddy is talented, but he rarely plays up to that level. In Calgary's 5-4 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Jan. 28, T.J. Brodie's game-winning overtime goal banked off of Leddy's stick and into the net. That type of play is fairly typical for Leddy.
Marek Zidlicky, 36, has solid offensive skills. The New Jersey Devil defenseman can fire the puck from the point, carry it out of his own zone and set up teammates with decent scoring opportunities. Zidlicky is not a long-term answer on the blue line, but he could give the Blackhawks a lift this season.
D Andrew McDonald, New York Islanders
2013-14 stats: Three goals, 20 assists, minus-11 rating
Contract status: Final season of four-year, $2.2 million contract
Overview: The Islanders could make a charge and put themselves in contention, but don't count on it. Even if they do, general manager Garth Snow is known for trading his assets at the deadline.
Andrew MacDonald, 27, is definitely an asset. He is playing 25:47 per game this season, and that's bound to draw a lot of interest from around the league. MacDonald is a solid skater, understands his responsibilities on the defensive end and will join the rush from time to time.
The Blackhawks would have to see him as a major upgrade over both Leddy and Sheldon Brookbank, and Bowman might be inclined to make the Islanders an attractive offer for him.