General Manager Stan Bowman may not have grabbed the biggest names in the league like Boston and Pittsburgh did before the 2013 NHL trade deadline, mostly because he didn’t have to grab big names.
With Chicago starting the season breaking the NHL point-streak record going 21 – 0 – 3 before finally dropping a game in regulation, there is no doubt that the Hawks have what it takes to be a serious Stanley Cup contender this season. Some may argue that this is Patrick Kane’s best – albeit, shortened – season in the NHL, scoring 43 points (19 G, 24A) in 35 games. And with rookies and sophomores like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw producing on a pretty regular basis, Chicago looks to be pretty well-rounded. Still, Stan Bowman knew that the team could use a bit of improvement in some areas (read: the face-off circle).
On Monday, Chicago acquired forward Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2013 fourth-round draft pick. Though he has only 2 points on the season (1G, 1A), his biggest appeal came in the form of his 55% face-off percentage. Jonathan Toews may be second in the league in face-off win percentage (60%) and first in the Western Conference in total face-off wins, but he cannot do it alone. Marcus Kruger and Dave Bolland have been lacking this season, both producing well under 50% – not good enough to support the offensive firepower that requires face-off wins.
“We can use experience and some depth at center,” General Manager Stan Bowman said shortly after the trade acquisition was announced. The 36 year-old winger has spent time with 6 NHL clubs throughout his career and has played nearly 1,000 games – including 74 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. He could be the key to accelerating the Hawks back into the dominant force that they were when the season began.
On Tuesday, Chicago acquired defenseman Kirill Gotovets from Tampa Bay in exchange for forward Philippe Paradis. Paradis has registered 8 points (1G, 7A) in 36 games with Chicago’s AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs this season. During his junior year at Cornell University, Gotovets boasts a +22 rating and 15 points (2G, 13A) in 80 games this past season. Gotovets was Tampa Bay’s seventh-round draft pick in the 2009 NHL draft.
The young defenseman shows promise and skill at the blue line, which would allow for more depth and neutral zone coverage when needed. It may be awhile before Hawks fans see Gotovets suit up in the Indian Head sweater, so don’t expect to be hearing about his official team number anytime soon.
Just hours before the trade deadline Wednesday, Chicago dealt forward Rob Flick to Boston in exchange for forward Maxime Sauve from Boston. Sauve has recorded 23 points (10G, 13A) in 52 games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins this season. The 23 year-old center will be assigned to the AHL Rockford IceHogs.
Whether these trades will bode well for the Blackhawks in the future, only time will tell. Chicago is strong enough as a whole that it doesn’t necessarily need a major trade in order to keep playoff hopes alive. There is always room to improve and the team has its weaknesses, so a little more skill may just be the bump Chicago needs to make a run for Lord Stanley’s Cup.