Chicago Blackhawks' Biggest Needs and Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IFebruary 20, 2015

Chicago Blackhawks' Biggest Needs and Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are used to being on top of the world as a powerhouse, but this season they are in third place in their division. The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators have a lead on Chicago with a game in hand. 

    While the Blackhawks have an impressive roster, they still have room for improvement even though there isn't a lot of movement in terms of cap space. With that in mind, here are the Blackhawks' biggest needs ahead of the deadline.

Top-Six Center

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    Brad Richards was signed to be the Chicago Blackhawks' second-line center, and he's had a decent season. However, he hasn't played well in the playoffs recently, and that has resulted in his relegation to the bottom six.

    Andrew Shaw is a quality third-liner, but he isn't the best option to move up in the event that Richards regresses in the playoffs. Antoine Vermette of the Arizona Coyotes is a quality scoring center who would be a nice fit for the second line, and he's one of the NHL's better faceoff-takers. 

    Vermette would fill a number of roles for Chicago, and he'd make the Blackhawks a tougher team to beat in the Western Conference.

Second-Pairing Defenseman

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    The Blackhawks have two talented defenders in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and some good defenders like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya on the other pairings.

    If the playoffs started today, Chicago wouldn't be able to match the Predators in a defense battle, and for that reason it could use a second-pairing defender to bolster its overall depth. 

    Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones and Cody Franson are a formidable top four, and the Blackhawks would only be able to keep up with the top pairing.

    For that reason, adding Andrej Sekera of the Carolina Hurricanes to play on the second pairing would make a ton of sense, because his all-around ability would allow the Blackhawks to at least match two pairings with Nashville.

Bottom-Six Winger

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    The Blackhawks' top two lines are set with players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, and each is a viable threat to score whenever he is on the ice.

    One of the strengths of the Blackhawks during their 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup runs was depth, and that's something that isn't strong this year.

    Ryan Hartman is a talented rookie, but the Blackhawks could stand to make an upgrade at the third-line right wing position. Daniel Winnik would be a great addition to the fold, because he's a talented two-way forward who plays a solid all-around game.

    Winnik has 23 points this season, and that is impressive when you consider how things have gone in Toronto this year.

Faceoff Specialist

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    If the Blackhawks don't want to pay a premium price for a top-six center, at the very least they should add a serviceable center who is successful at winning faceoffs.

    Jonathan Toews is the only center who is consistently winning more than 50 percent of faceoffs, and that could become an issue in the playoffs against teams that are able to drive puck possession.

    If the Blackhawks can't win faceoffs, they will end up chasing the puck more than they hold onto it, and that could cause some major issues in the playoffs.

    Jay McClement is winning more than 55 percent of his faceoffs this season, and his low-cost contract makes him an ideal pickup for Chicago. 

Second-Line Winger

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    Kris Versteeg is a solid second-line winger who just returned from injury. He has 29 points in 38 games, and he's currently playing alongside Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. If the Blackhawks are unable to find a winger to upgrade their bottom six, they could slot Versteeg down on the third line and add a second-line winger instead.

    The Blackhawks don't exactly need a second-line winger, but adding one couldn't hurt their chances of returning to the Stanley Cup Final. If the Blackhawks could move some salary and assets, Loui Eriksson would be a good fit to the roster because he is a speedy two-way winger.

    In addition to the role he'd fill this year, adding Eriksson could lessen the potential blow if the team trades Patrick Sharp this summer to help lessen cap constraints.

    Stats via Hockey Reference and rumors via The Fourth Period.

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