The Chicago Blackhawks have been in a funk recently, and if that doesn't change, GM Stan Bowman could be making some permanent changes to the team's roster.
Inconsistent play, bad defense and all-around bad hockey from a number of individuals wearing a Blackhawks jersey explains the team's lack of success recently.
Although the Hawks have been struggling, there have been some players—such as Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy—who have made significant improvements to their game since the start of the season.
There are a number of players in the Blackhawks organization who can be used as trade bait to either sell high or buy low as long as it's an exchange that's going to help the Hawks achieve success immediately, or in the near future.
Bickell, who's been known in the past for his wicked wrister, often fires shots on net that are so far wide that you'd think he was trying to dump the puck into the offensive zone.
Bickell is ineffective on the ice. He's tied for team worst with a plus/minus rating of minus-eight, which is why he's averaging less than 13 minutes of ice time each game.
In addition to his poor play for most of the season, it could be hard to trade Bickell if he's consistently sitting in the team's skybox because Joel Quenneville lists him as a healthy scratch now that Ben Smith was recalled.
Even though Bickell has played fairly bad so far in 2011, he does have some positives. He's only 25 years old and ESPN.com has him listed at a massive 6-foot-4, 223 pounds.
If someone can knock some sense into this kid, he has a bright future ahead of him, but it's looking like that may be easier said than done.
Only two Hawks have a worse +/- rating on the year than Dave Bolland, who has a minus-six rating thus far.
As solid as Dave Bolland has been for the Blackhawks the last few years, he's been very frustrating to watch the last few weeks.
Bolland is one of the most defensive-minded forwards in the NHL, but that has hurt him, literally, the last few weeks. He missed three games in November because of a foot injury he suffered after blocking a shot against the St. Louis Blues.
As long as Bolland can stay healthy, he can make a significant impact for the Blackhawks, but health hasn't been his strength. During the past two seasons, Bolland played a mere 100 of 164 games—not including playoffs—and he's missed four so far in 2011.
It wouldn't be a surprise if many teams took a shot at Bolland prior to the deadline, but it's going to be a matter of whether or not Bowman believes any exchange would be worth parting ways with the 25-year-old scrappy Canadian.
There aren't too many third line centers as good as Bolland. He's the type of guy who would go to another organization with less fire power than Chicago and immediately step into a leadership role like former Hawks Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien have done.
Niklas Hjalmarsson's play has been very subpar recently, and that's one of the reasons the Blackhawks are in the funk they're in.
The Hammer is anything but an offensive blueliner, so you shouldn't be expecting many points out of him throughout the year.
Hjalmarsson's play has looked very frantic lately. It looks like he doesn't know what to do with the puck, making premature decisions because of indecisiveness.
At 24 years old, the Hammer has proved himself in his four-plus seasons with the Hawks, including being a key component to the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
There would be a number of teams interested in Hjalmarsson if Bowman attempted to trade him prior to the deadline. Don't think Bowman would force a trade, though.
Hjalmarsson's last few weeks on the ice don't outweigh his last two-and-a-half years. It would have to be the right deal.
Viktor Stalberg is due for one of those highlight reel games he has every so often that secures his job for another couple weeks.
He blew a great opportunity to do so when he completely missed the net—and almost whiffed completely—on a wide open, two-on-none one-timer pass from Patrick Kane against the Los Angeles Kings at the end of November.
The strength and speed in Stalberg's game has so much potential, but the results aren't always there for the 25-year-old Swede.
He is young, though, and that will benefit the Hawks if, in fact, Bowman does attempt to ship him out prior to the NHL's trade deadline.
Stalberg's production on the ice is very streaky, but the up-side of that is he's still productive, just not as often as the Hawks would like him to be. Maybe his production would be more consistent without the level of talent the Blackhawks surround him with.
You better believe that teams will be calling Bowman inquiring about Marcus Kruger throughout the next few months leading up to the NHL trade deadline.
I'd hate to see him go, but if we're talking about selling high, Kruger is the guy on the Blackhawks roster who best fits that description.
Kruger doesn't turn 22 until May of 2012. So far, the youngster's made significant strides to take his game in the right direction.
There's a bright future in the NHL for Kruger, and he's showing that he's capable of playing a significant role for many teams in due time. That's why it would be tough for the Blackhawks to trade him away.
The only way Kruger would be traded is if the Hawks receive a player who will have an immediate and significant impact in return.
Matt Bauer is from Chicago and an undergrad at the University of Kansas en route to graduate in May of 2012. He began the Bleacher Report Sports Writing Internship this past October and is scheduled to finish it in mid-December.
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