As the Chicago Blackhawks prepare to host their Stadium Series contest with the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night, news of a big trade swung by a Central Division rival has to be ringing in Stan Bowman's ears.
The St. Louis Blues made a big swap with Buffalo Friday night, acquiring goalie Ryan Miller as well as Sabres captain Steve Ott. Chicago's general manager had to have taken notice of the bold deal made by Blues GM Doug Armstrong.
St. Louis' transaction might draw some sort of response from Bowman. However, I'm not sure that he can match the scope of the deal for a couple of reasons.
One, blockbuster deals haven't been Bowman's style at the trade deadline. Even if he decides to buck his own trend, he may not have the pieces in place to pry a high-impact name loose from another organization.
The one area Chicago could substantially upgrade is at second line center, as has been the case for a while. To do this via a deadline trade, Bowman would have to meet several requirements.
He would have to be willing to move some draft picks, possibly a first-rounder. He would likely have to include a prospect in the deal as well as a player currently on the 'Hawks roster. In addition, Bowman would have to create adequate cap space for what could be a sizable contract.
St. Louis sent Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart to Buffalo, N.Y. By doing so, Armstrong sent nearly $8 million in cap space to accommodate the $9 million-plus in the salaries of Miller and Ott.
The Blues also gave up William Carrier, a 19-year-old wing who was their second-round pick last summer. Sweetening the pot was the inclusion of a 2015 first-round draft pick as well as St. Louis' third-round pick in 2016.
I doubt Bowman wants to subtract from his current roster even if it would mean a legitimate top-six center in return. The 'Hawks have the picks and prospects, but Bowman would have to be willing to part with a few to get what he wants.
Hypothetically, Chicago could put together a trade package of Bryan Bickell, Antti Raanta, Brandon Pirri and a high pick in 2015. Though Bickell adds some contract dollars to a deal, he hasn't performed well enough this season to command the type of interest that would entice a potential trade partner.
Moving a player like Johnny Oduya could help accommodate a large contract but would weaken the defensive depth the 'Hawks have enjoyed. It is hard for me to think that Bowman would deal from his roster outside of these players, if at all.
The Blackhawks, despite heading into Saturday's game with two straight losses, are a Stanley Cup contender right now. Bowman is much more likely to try and find a less expensive option out there, much like last month's trade for Peter Regin from the Islanders.
The Blackhawks and Blues will battle for control of the Central Division as the regular season winds down. It is open for debate as to how picking up Miller and Ott changes St. Louis' chances. However, it is going to take a uncharacteristic move on Bowman's part to match the Blues' trade before the deadline.