With one of the busiest shopping days of the year on the horizon we are left to wonder what this Blackhawks team is in the market for. They have been in peaks and valleys throughout the season already and it is difficult to understand what their exact needs are. So lets take a look at four areas I think the Blackhawks should be hunting for some Black Friday deals.
Top Four Defenseman
I think it goes without saying that the Blackhawks defense is still an area that they could greatly improve at. While Duncan Keith, Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy have all had solid seasons the inconsistency even within their top four group has been much to be desired.
Erik Gustafsson until recently was not the offensive dynamo he was last season and is still a trainwreck to watch in the defensive zone night in and night out. Brent Seabrook has been in the press box several times this season and has not played well while in a sheltered role.
The hope going into the season was that Gustafsson would step up into a bigger role and the Blackhawks would be at least solid as a defensive group. While there has been improvement the consistency just has not been there night in and night out.
In my mind Stan Bowman needs to be consistently on the hunt for improvements on this defense and while players like Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell are on their way if they can improve their defensive core, they should. The problem comes with every player, excluding Gustafsson, are on deals with term and it would likely mean their best power play QB would need to be moved to accommodate a move.
Names to consider for the Blackhawks could be guys Tyson Barrie from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Marco Scandella or Colin Miller from the Buffalo Sabres all of which could be looking for a change of scenery. And in Buffalo’s case need to move some of their defensive depth in order to restock their depleted offense.
A Consistent Top Line Forward
I get the feeling that coach Jeremy Colliton still does not trust Alex Nylander, which is understandable considering his inexperience at the NHL level and defensive lapses. Nylander however has been a solid scoring option on a line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews but I image they still want more.
Adding a more veteran presence to the top of the lineup, that has a scoring pedigree would be invaluable to a “top line” that has consistently struggled to find the back of the net. Although I can’t think of any specific names at the present a team we might want to keep our eye on is the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators have stated they are looking for some veteran presence on their back end, something the Blackhawks could provide in a trade. It would just come down to what they could get back from the Senators.
Not exactly huge upgrades but could be more consistent pieces for Jeremy Colliton to utilize. While there is nothing concrete on this front I could see the Blackhawks utilizing some of their depth defenseman as a way to add a piece via trade.
This is a bit of an odd one but I think that it is something that we might need to wrestle with as the season progresses. This upcoming draft is loaded with talent and while the Blackhawks still possess their first round pick they did move out their 2nd and 7th this upcoming year. If the Blackhawks find themselves further and further out of the playoff picture it would be a good year to do a bit of selling.
Players like Drake Caggiula, Gustafsson, or even one of your goaltender, likely Corey Crawford, could provide value to other teams that are looking to solidify their playoff standing. Is there a team that couldn’t use an elite power play quarterback? Isn’t the playoffs where players like Caggiula shine? Want a Stanley Cup champion standing between the pipes if you hope to make a deep run?
These are all things that the Blackhawks have and if they are starting to nose dive they can replenish their pipeline quickly and surround their up and coming star players. While this isn’t the idea situation in Blackhawks fans minds it could be one they do have to face.
Then it would be a real black friday for fans in Chicago.