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Blackhawks Thu Mar 06 2014
Yesterday at 2pm marked the end of the NHL's trade deadline for the 2013-'14 season, and all the while Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman held steady on any big-time moves. Outside of acquiring Kris Versteeg (and Philippe Lefebvre from the Florida Panthers for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) back on November 14, and recently acquiring defenseman David Rundblad from Phoenix for a second-round pick in this year's draft, Bowman stated he felt nothing more needed to be added.
While the latter move may not have had the same cache of what happened between the Rangers trading its captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for its captain Martin St. Louis, Bowman still decided to let this core play through its remaining 19 games of the regular season and defend its title come mid-April without making any waves in the process.
As the deadline approached there were many rumors surrounding the Blackhawks making a move for Vancouver center Ryan Kesler. For those who may not remember, Kesler was the thorn in everyone's side come playoff time -- think Rodman with the Pistons who eventually came over to the Bulls. He's very good at what he does, but, man, you really hate that guy.
As anyone who watches the Hawks knows, the lack of a true second-line center is becoming the Achilles' heel of this team -- think every year imaginable for a Chicago Cubs third baseman post Ron Santo. The short answer was slotting Brandon Pirri in between Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, which turned out to be way more fruitful than the slow and injured Michal Handzuš.
In the end, Pirri was traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick in this year's draft and a fifth-round pick in 2016 (if you're having a hard time trying to keep up with all of these future draft picks coming and going, you're not alone). This now clears the way for Handzuš to become the full-time second-line center, which means less production for Kane.
It's been said before that while Handzuš proved serviceable in last year's run to the Cup, he doesn't have the legs to keep up with the likes of Kane and Saad/Versteeg. So just as the clock struck midnight on the Hawks' chances of bringing someone in to fill that role via trade, Bowman found himself standing at the craps table with a handful of chips that he'll keep instead of cashing in.
There is, however, the likelihood that the Blackhawks will bring in 19-year-old Teuvo Teräväinen from Finland who helped his country win gold in the World Juniors back in January. Teräväinen currently plays for Jokerit in the Liiga and is lighting it up with 42 points in 46 games (nine goals, 33 assists).
With his speed and skill the second line could thrive while Handzuš anchors the fourth line. And now that Marian Hossa is going to be out two to three weeks with an upper-body injury he faced in the Stadium Series game against the Penguins, the Hawks will be looking for extra help down the stretch.
Bowman is confident his team is fine as it is, and even though they dropped a 4-2 loss the other night to the Avs, there's still reason to believe this team will be productive in a seven-game series come playoff time, even as scary as the Blues might seem with new goalie Ryan Miller.
Bowman's pulled the rabbit out of the hat before, and sometimes no "big" move is the best move you can make. However, it should be interesting to see how the rest of the division plays out with everyone else playing catch-up to a team that has set the standard in winning.