CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks' 38 points have them on top of the Central Division, but that is hardly enough to keep general manager Stan Bowman from exploring trade options.
"I've been calling a lot of the GM's over the last few weeks to try and find out what they're doing," Bowman said at the Hawks annual holiday skate with their families on Friday. "We've contacted all the teams and we're looking to get better. If we see an opportunity to get either a forward or a defenseman I think we'd have to look at that."
On the surface it would seem Bowman would be looking for help on defense. The Hawks rank 21st in the league, giving up three goals per game; additionally, their penalty kill is 27th. At the other end of the ice, they score 3.21 goals per contest, good for third in the league.
"What you're trying to do is find the areas that have been weak," Bowman said. "My job is try to assess, can we fix that with personnel or can we fix that with different style of play but I think overall we're happy with the changes we made over the summer."
Though a defender could help, the Hawks might easily be in the market for a forward as well, specifically a center. Marcus Kruger has taken over for Patrick Kane at that position on the second line but he's a rookie.
A good center could help them defensively as well; the Hawks like to play a puck-possession game. The more they have the puck the less the other team is pressuring them in their own zone. That's a weakness.
"For us it can come at any time because we have plenty of cap room," Bowman said of a trade. "It's not an issue. We actually have more cap room than three-quarters of the teams right now. We have that flexibility. We're being patient but also staying connected with all the different teams. We've had a lot of discussions but nothing is close to happening right now."
Overall, Bowman is pleased with the Hawks' 17-8-4 record despite several blowout losses.
"I think we've played well for the most part," he said. "We've had some moments where we weren't happy with things but we've only had eight games where we didn't get a point."
The major accomplishment, in Bowman's estimation so far, is simply being closer to the top of the standings than the bottom through the first 30 games.
"We've gotten off to a good start," he said." Last year that was one of the things we struggled with. ... Looking at the season as it unfolds, not having to play that extreme catch-up that we did last year is important."