5 Burning Questions for Chicago Blackhawks After the 2015 Trade Deadline

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IMarch 6, 2015

5 Burning Questions for Chicago Blackhawks After the 2015 Trade Deadline

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    The Chicago Blackhawks were active at the trade deadline, bolstering their roster with the additions of Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen.

    Chicago is in the very tough Central Division this year with the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, so it was key that general manager Stan Bowman was able to make some upgrades to his club.

    The deals made have implications on this season and next. Here are five burning questions concerning the Blackhawks.

Who Becomes Odd Man out When Trevor van Riemsdyk Returns?

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    Trevor van Riemsdyk is set to play for the Rockford Ice Hogs this weekend after being sidelined since November with an injury:

    At the trade deadline, defender Kimmo Timonen was added to the roster making Johnny Oduya a likely scratch even when he returns from injury. TvR was playing very well before suffering an injury and there's a good chance he will be back in the lineup if things go well in the AHL. 

    David Rundblad and Michal Rozsival are two defenders who have both seen time on the third pairing, but it remains to be seen who will be sitting out once the Blackhawks get van Riemsdyk back.

Where Is the Best Fit for Antoine Vermette?

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    Since joining the Blackhawks, Antoine Vermette has centered Chicago's second line. The former Arizona Coyote can play both center and wing, although he's been used primarily as a center this season.

    The Blackhawks are going to do the best they can to get by without Patrick Kane. Should head coach Joel Quenneville try using Vermette as a winger while Kane is sidelined?

    Putting Vermette on the wing would allow the Blackhawks to always have two capable faceoff men on the ice in the instance one is thrown out of the dot by a linesman.

    There's a case to be made that having this flexibility would make the Blackhawks deeper. It might benefit them to tinker around to find the best line combinations before the playoffs.

Is This Going to Be Patrick Sharp's Final Run as a Member of the Blackhawks?

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    After this season, Patrick Sharp will have two years remaining on a five-year, $29.5 million deal that started in 2012. He's 33 and still is one of the Blackhawks' best players. However, the team has to lock up 23-year-old Brandon Saad this summer.

    The Blackhawks will have to find a way to trim the fat. Sharp is a probable candidate because he can net a nice return via trade.

    However, there's still the chance that Chicago could roll the dice and move or buyout Marian Hossa and his $5,275,000 cap hit for the next six seasons.

    It would be risky because of potential cap recapture penalties via trade or dead weight from a buyout, but the Blackhawks arguably could use Sharp more than Hossa.

    Nothing is for certain at this point. It will be interesting to see what happens with Sharp this summer.

Will Patrick Kane Return This Season?

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    Patrick Kane could return at some point in May if everything heals as it should, but will the Blackhawks still be playing hockey in May?

    The Blackhawks are third in the Central Division. Although they have won two Stanley Cups since 2010, could Chicago be usurped by the upstart Nashville Predators or St. Louis Blues?

    The Blackhawks have a solid forward core, a pretty good blue line and decent goaltending, but the question still remains whether or not they will be good enough to go to the Western Conference Final and beyond this season.

Which Corey Crawford Will Show Up for the Playoffs?

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    Corey Crawford is an enigma in net because he is often very good or very bad.

    When Chicago won the the 2012-13 Stanley Cup, Crawford went 16-7 with a .932 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average. He was almost unbeatable and kept finding ways to frustrate the Boston Bruinssans the couple times they exploited his glove like the jump glitch at Wario Stadium in Mario Kart 64. 

    The success was short lived. Last season, Crawford looked very shaky at times as he went 11-8 with a .912 save percentage and 2.53 goals-against average.

    "Crow" has played pretty solid this season, but regular season performance hasn't been an issue for him since 2012.

    What remains to be seen is how effective he will be in net this upcoming postseason. With an impending cap crunch, he could be jettisoned if he fails to get the job done.

    Stats via Hockey-Reference and The Hockey News unless otherwise noted. Cap information via Spotrac.