The Chicago Blackhawks have established themselves as a perennial National Hockey League powerhouse over the past half-decade - in the stacked Western Conference, no less. Boasting big names like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith, it's no wonder the Hawks have been so dominant over the past couple of seasons.
The Hawks were on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, but the chance to win their third Cup in five years was snatched away by the eventual 2014 champs, the L.A. Kings.
While the Hawks roster remains unquestionably formidable, there's always room for improvement - general manager Stan Bowman will no doubt (at the very least) be inquiring around the league, at the very least, for pieces he might be able to add to bolster his roster for the stretch run and, hopefully, another deep playoff run.
As it stands, the Hawks depth chart looks something like this:
Saad - Toews - Hossa
Sharp - Richards - Kane
Bickell - Shaw - Teravainen
Nordstrom - Kruger - Smith
Keith - Runblad
Hjalmarsson - Seabrook
Rozsival - Oduya
Bowman is reportedly expected to stick to his current roster through the deadline, but if a great opportunity presents itself, Bowman would have at least listen.
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5 Antoine Vermette, Arizona Coyotes
In a year with few upcoming big-name free-agents, Antoine Vermette has risen to the top of many "trade bait" boards. It's a foregone conclusion that the Coyotes will be sellers, and Vermette's days in Arizona are numbered. He's been solid this season, with 31 points in 50 games on a porous Coyotes team - imagine what he could do with the Hawks.
This would simply be a case of the rich getting richer. Vermette wouldn't crack the Hawks top two lines, barring an injury, but he might fit in nicely on a third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. He'd be bumping Teuvo Teravainen down the depth chart, but if the Hawks think Vermette is a piece that can help them in the playoffs, the short-term development of the young Finn would be sacrificed without batting an eyelash.
The price for Vermette, according to Bob McKenzie, is a first-round pick and a good prospect. If there's a team with enough wiggle room to mortgage a bit of the future, it's the Hawks.
4 Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs tailspin into the NHL's abyss, combined with Franson's upcoming free agency (and the Leafs attempt to trade him during the summer), suggest that Franson is readily available. Again, the Hawks would simply be stacking their roster at this point; adding Franson to a team that barely has powerplay time for Brent Seabrook is almost redundant. Franson has been productive with the Leafs despite their issues, and would provide depth to an already rock-solid Chicago defense. It's unlikely the Hawks reach for a top-4 defenseman, but in the event of an injury, Franson would be an interesting piece for Chicago to take a look at.
Franson will not come cheap - Bowman would have to be in a real jam on the backend to ship off a high pick and potentially a prospect for a rental like Franson.
3 Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils
If the Blackhawks added Jaromir Jagr to their roster, it would look more like something a 14-year old created on his "Be A GM" mode in NHL15 rather than a real NHL roster.
Adding a purely-offensive player like Jagr would almost make the Hawks' an unfair opponent. Jagr would be motivated by the possibility of one final Stanley Cup before riding off into the sunset, and he'd have a very good chance of doing so if he played on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
The point can't be reiterated enough: the Hawks are stacked as it is - unless someone gets hurt these are all just luxuries. Adding Jagr now would be like adding nitro to your supercar. Tantalizing, though, isn't it?
The asking price for Jagr shouldn't be ridiculously high, so if Bowman can convince himself that parting with a second or third round pick is worth adding firepower, this could be a match made in hockey heaven.
2 Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators
We've established that the Hawks are top-heavy and don't really need help scoring. There's nothing wrong with adding a bit of grit and bite to the roster, though - so if Chris Neil is nearing the end of his stay in Ottawa, the Hawks might be able to benefit from his tenacity in a tough series against L.A. or Anaheim. Dealing with Andrew Shaw on his own is bad enough - imagine if opposing players had to deal with both of them, at the same time? Heads might explode.
If the Sens are set on rebuilding, shopping Neil would be in their best interests. Bowman, on his end, might have visions of Neil and Shaw instigating the Kings and Ducks stars to no-end throughout a seven-game series.
1 Daniel Winnik, Toronto Maple Leafs
Winnik won't aggravate opponents the way Neil will, but in a ferocious Western Conference, having another big body to throw on the ice doesn't hurt. Winnik is used to the physical style of the West, as he spent seven years playing for the Coyotes, Avalanche, Sharks and Ducks before joining the Leafs this summer. Winnik could slide in on Chicago's third or fourth line and not look out of place. He's not the most productive player, but when defenses tighten up in the playoffs, having a big mucker like Winnik certainly helps.
If the Hawks decide they do want to go out and add a piece, there's a good chance it might even be an off-the-radar name, a pure depth move just as insurance. The Hawks roster as it stands is good enough to push for the Finals and win the Cup, so Bowman will err on the side of caution with regards to messing up chemistry in the room and on the ice. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don't make - but if Bowman is a man with expensive taste (which does not seem to be the case) he might be tempted to make an offer for some of the big names that will be available at this year's trade deadline.
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