The Hawks are once again serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. And while they have had little trouble pumping in goals, they are due for an upgrade within their top six defensemen.
John Scott is good to have around as the 20th man to protect players, but it is hard to envision him with much ice time during the playoffs.
The same can be said for Sean O'Donnell and Sami Lepisto. O.D. is a good guy, but wearing out. And Lepitso cannot seem to crack the line-up often enough to be reliable.
The Hawks could also use a second or third line forward. Players like Bryan Bickell, while decent lately, have been a liability this season.
And who knows how long Viktor Stalberg will be hot?
Fortunately, Stan Bowman and company have enough prospects in the system and, perhaps, some current players that can be moved.
Here's a quick look at five that could be deemed expendable when it's time to pull the trigger.
If inserting Sami Lepisto into the Hawks' line-up was a cure for the teams' defensive woes, he would have more than 10 games under his belt.
I suppose he is not terrible. But at the same time, he is not very sturdy when he is out there. It would be great to see him as some sort of throw-in on a deal.
At 27, he will not be the center piece in any deal, but you can imagine that Stan Bowman will be trying to unload this guy before March.
Sure, the Stalberg-Bolland-Bickell line worked well on Monday night, and Bickell has put together a couple of good games in a row. He was working well in the beginning of the year with Bolland and Frolik before the bottom dropped out.
The bottom line is that if you can improve any part of your team by moving Bryan Bickell, you should do it.
It is a good thing that his confidence has received a bit of a boost lately. If he continues to audition well for a potential suitor, you know Bowman's trigger finger will be pretty itchy.
Before you go crazy and fire off your guns, please read.
Yes, Viktor Stalberg is very hot, scoring four goals in his last four games. He has nine goals this season and is on pace to tally 20 goals..
Here's the kicker.
While we all marvel at what he is doing and while some believe he has it all figured out, will his value ever be higher than it is right now?
For his size, he does not play physical hockey, or at least not the physical hockey the Hawks need. As Eddie O pointed out Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stalberg needs to have his stick in a better position in front of the net.
Stalberg is playing well right now, but history has proven that he has been streaky. This is a player that put up a modest 10 points in the second half of last season.
The Hawks cannot afford to have him flame out down the stretch.
His value is huge right now. If you are Stan Bowman, you may want to consider selling high, as it is tough to see Stalberg in Chicago long-term.
It was really too bad to see Ben Smith take a dirty hit and get a concussion during the preseason.
Since he has recovered, he has only played in seven games in Chicago and registered one goal.
I hate to compare Smith to Jack Skille—because he has a much better work ethic—but there is nothing about Ben Smith's game that separates him from any other player on the Hawks' roster.
For the most part, he is decent at everything, which makes it difficult to plug him in the line-up anywhere but a third or fourth line reserve.
Someone will be willing to take a flier on Smith. If he could catch on with a young team where he could get a lot of playing experience, it would be great for him.
He will be a good bargaining chip for better personnel.
One of Dale Tallon's picks, Shawn Lalonde was drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Still young, at 21, he has a full season under his belt in Rockford and has performed relatively well.
Lalonde has played in 28 games with the Ice Hogs this season, and while he has not been spectacular, he has been steady.
Still, the Hawks are more than likely grooming Dylan Olsen for the next stay-at-home defenseman, and Lalonde should still have value decent enough to be thrown in a deal.
The Hawks need defensive help, preferably from the outside, and someone who will not be a rental for the rest of the season. It is hard to envision Lalonde in the Hawks long-term plans.
Brian Connelly is a puck-moving defenseman who has some offensive talent.
He has also proved that he needs a little help in his own zone. Even in Rockford, he is second in team scoring but has a minus-7 rating.
It is scary to think of him facing NHL forwards.
Connelly is 25 and time is running out on him to make the jump to the NHL. I am not sure the Hawks would be able to get much of a return on him. You have Duncan Keith moving the puck well, and Adam Clendening looks very sharp in the World Junior Tournament.
Clendening should be the focus of the future.
If Bowman can find a way to get value by adding Connelly in a package, he should certainly do so.
Kyle Beach is the Hawks' biggest enigma to date.
Many, myself included, thought he would be with the big club by now.
It hasn't happened.
Beach had an atrocious training camp, but when he began in Rockford this season, he was doing well. In eight games, he had three goals and three assists before sustaining a shoulder injury.
That injury is still keeping him on the shelf, and it is difficult to determine whether or not Beach has any trading value.
He was a risky first round choice by Tallon in 2008. Thus far, we have yet to see dividends.
It is a shame that he got hurt. But, if he is able to come back after January and display a full recovery he may be movable.
If not, the Hawks will have to make a serious decision on Beach as he has one more year left on his current contract.