Hawks fans seem to be more partial to Keith Tkachuk, right, than struggling winger Dustin Byfuglien.
Associated Press file
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While looking ahead to the NHL's March 4 trade deadline, I asked in my dailyherald.com blog last weekend, "What do the Blackhawks need?"
The responses were interesting, thoughtful, and raised great points. Only one guy expressed that I was an idiot, which I considered a victory.
According to the blog and comments posted on stories at our Web site, these are the 10 hottest issues on the minds of Hawks fans:
1. Dustin Byfuglien: There are a lot of fans unhappy with the big guy and want to see him packaged in a deal.
There are two problems: One, Byfuglien has two years and $6 million left on a contract general manager Dale Tallon never should have offered last summer. Two, he is a wide body on a team that is somewhat small and needs all the size it can get for the playoffs.
Byfuglien hasn't scored with any consistency and continues to show questionable hands. To those fans who want to see him in front of the net on the power play, Jonathan Toews simply is better playing there.
2. Chris Neil: Ottawa's skilled tough guy is available and would be an interesting pick up for the Hawks. He's a banger who is playoff tested.
3. Nik Antropov: Toronto's big center/wing is on the market and the Maple Leafs want a high draft pick or prospect in return. Is he the answer to the Hawks' hole at center? Some scouts question his work ethic, and the Hawks are a hard-working team.
4. Radek Bonk: A big center who can win faceoffs, he's just what the Hawks need. With Nashville in the playoff mix, it's not known if he is available. Then again, with Bonk set to be an unrestricted free agent in July, many believe he will become available at the deadline. He's an underrated player with an attractive cap hit ($1.6 million).
5. Keith Tkachuk: Some of you want him, some don't.
There are concerns Tkachuk is not the type of team player the Hawks would want to bring into a great dressing room. Would the Blues even deal him to the rival Hawks? That's debatable. There will be some serious deadline bidding for Tkachuk, perhaps involving No. 1 draft picks, and I doubt that Tallon will want to get into that.
6. Brian Campbell: Why are so many fans on his case? Because he makes $7.1 million?
Campbell has been a difference-maker on a good Hawks team, and if you don't think so then you're not watching closely. Is he the greatest defender? No, but he moves the puck out of trouble more times than not and his presence on the power play makes opponents defend differently. With 36 points in 51 games prior to Wednesday, the Hawks wouldn't be fourth in the conference without him.
7. Playoff forecast: Of course, it's not going to be easy for the Hawks to get out of the West, but that doesn't mean it can't happen.
For anyone who dismisses the Hawks' chances of beating Detroit or San Jose in the playoffs, you just don't know for sure that it can't happen. Goaltending is a great equalizer in the playoffs.
Since 2004, Tampa Bay and Carolina have won Stanley Cups. Edmonton and Calgary reached Game 7 of the Finals with teams that weren't clearly better than these Hawks.
8. Chris Pronger: First off, the Ducks have given no indications the hulking defenseman is available. Would you trade Brent Seabrook to get him? That's what it might take.
As good as he is, Pronger is 34 and Seabrook is 23. The Hawks likely would have to give up a lot to get Pronger, and Tallon is on record saying he won't sacrifice the future for a deadline deal.
9. If not Pronger, then who? It's more likely the Hawks will look at adding depth at the deadline. Among the blue liners available are Atlanta's Mathieu Schneider and Niclas Havelid, Nashville's Greg de Vries, Ottawa's Filip Kuba and the Islanders' Brendan Witt.
10. Rent-a-players: Tallon has said he'd prefer not to go this route, which is what Bonk, Tkachuk or a Doug Weight would be. But as March 4 draws closer, and if the Hawks are looking to a fourth-place finish in the West, the Hawks will explore all options.