This is a great time of year for hockey bloggers and rumor starters as teams gear up to find the final pieces of their Stanley Cup puzzles. It's hard to find too many holes in a team that has a 21-2-3 record, but the Blackhawks do have some issues heading down the stretch. As always, the Hawks could use a 2nd line center, a position that is starting to become harder to fill than 3rd base for the Cubs, after Ron Santo left. Stan Bowman should also be on the lookout to add some size to his team. They will need some help in this department come playoff time where room on the ice becomes a premium.
Of course, all of the players I am going to mention come from various rumors and "inside sources" so they should all be taken with a grain of salt. The salary cap and asking price both need to be considered but here are some of the names floating around the internet that could be available in the next couple of weeks. As of now the Blackhawks have about $3.2 million in cap space, so they could take on some additional salary.
Anaheim Ducks' forward, and former Hart Trophy winner, Corey Perry could be the big prize at the deadline. The Ducks gave Ryan Getzlaf a big contract extension and could be looking to move Perry for a king's ransom. Don't expect the Hawks to part of the Perry derby, if there is one. He is way too expensive, both in what it would take to keep him after this season and what it would cost to get him from Anaheim. I would not risk resigning Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews in two years for Corey Perry.
There has been some talk that the Hawks have some interest in Chris Neil and Guillaume Latendresse of the Ottawa Senators. I wouldn't touch Neil with a ten foot pole. Yes, the Hawks need some size and toughness but Neil is not the answer. We already have our shithead quota filled with Daniel Carcillo and Brandon Bollig on the team. Latendresse is an interesting name who will be a UFA at season's end and would only be a $1.2 million cap hit . Even though it probably wouldn't take much more than a mid round draft pick to land him, Latendresse is a bit of risk due to his recent injury history which includes the dreaded "c word."
The Columbus Blue Jackets could be a big player at the trade deadline. Despite their recent hot streak, new general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could be looking to stock pile draft picks and young prospects instead of hanging on to assets at the deadline. Brandon Dubinksy's name has recently been flying around and I would love to see him in a Hawks uniform. The problem is he is still under contract for 2 more years at a $4.6 million cap hit. That is just way too much money to have invested in a 2nd or 3rd line center. Derick Brassard is another name that always seems to come up in Hawks rumors. He could be a nice addition but he is under contract for next season at a $3.7 million cap hit.
One name that apparently is being shopped around by the Washington Capitals is Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro was always one of those players who irritated the hell out of me during his playing days with the Dallas Stars. Considering he is due to be a UFA at season's end, he could be the perfect "rent-a-player" to fill the 2nd line center void. If the asking price is not too steep, a 2nd line of Ribeiro between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp sounds pretty good to me.
The rumors are also starting to swirl around David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils. I have been wanting Clarkson in an Indian Head for quite some time now. He is the quintessential power forward that the Hawks are lacking. He has the size, the nastiness and the scoring touch. Clarkson scored 30 goals for New Jersey last season and has 18 points (10 G, 8 A) in 26 games so far this year. His 6'1 200 lbs frame is perfect for the pounding of a lost post season run. He had 12 points (3 G, 9 A) during the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Final last season and all three of goals were game winning goals. If Bowman can not land Clarkson at the deadline, I hope he is one of his top free agent targets in the summer.