The Chicago Blackhawks face the difficult task of adding the right talent to their team while trying to respect the salary cap. This off-season won't be as radical as last season's, but some tough decisions are going to have to be made.
One positive aspect of the 'Hawks management is that they seem to really love the team and the fans. They bring in players that they think will benefit the team and let go of the ones that are stagnating the team.
This off-season will be no different. The owners saw the problems and know what they need to do to keep the 'Hawks a perennial power in the NHL.
Here's my list of needs the 'Hawks should consider this off-season.
*I do not expect the 'Hawks to fill all these spots this off-season. That would be crazy and unrealistic.
1. A Scoring, Second-Line Center
The Blackhawks already have on of the best players in the NHL at center in Jonathan Toews, but what they don't have is a consistent, second-line center to back him up.
Dave Bolland has been very good at shutting down opponents' star players, but that job restricts him to be defensive-orientated.
You're never going to find a player like Toews, but the 'Hawks do need a player that controls and leads a line like Toews does in the first line.
2. A Blue Line Defenseman
The Blackhawks have one of the best defensive duos in the NHL in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but Keith's dip in performance this regular season hurt the 'Hawks in more ways than people thought.
The 'Hawks have a pretty solid defensive unit with Brian Campbell leading the powerplay and Seabrook and Keith playing against teams' top lines, but the 'Hawks need to fill in a penalty-killing defenseman who shuts down opponents' forwards at the blue line.
Chris Campoli was a nice addition and Nick Leddy is shaping up to be a decent defenseman, but they don't fill in the penalty-killing void.
3. Finding an Andrew Ladd-Like Player
The biggest loss of the salary cap debacle was losing Andrew Ladd. If there is one thing I could go back and change in recent 'Hawks history, it would be letting go of Ladd.
Since he's been gone, the 'Hawks haven't been able to find another player to fill in his skates.
Ladd has the ability to score, defensive skills and can add a physical element to the game. Summed up: he has everything a team could want.
This and finding a defender are, to me, the top needs the 'Hawks should consider this off-season.