VANCOUVER, British Columbia - General manager Stan Bowman might be in his first season running the Blackhawks, but he has been around the game long enough to know you don't tip your hand approaching the NHL trade deadline.
While Bowman admitted there's a possibility he will be active before the March 3 deadline to strengthen the Hawks' chances of winning the Stanley Cup, perhaps doing something of significance, it's also possible he will choose to stand pat with a team that takes a 35-12-4 record into Saturday's game against the Canucks at GM Place.
"Right now we're playing, on balance, pretty well and we've got (Adam) Burish and (Dave) Bolland coming back," Bowman said. "But you have to look at where we're going to be in March when the deadline rolls around. It's probably easier to say what our needs are at that point."
Bowman said standing pat wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
"You have to assess if it makes sense short-term and long-term," Bowman said. "Obviously we've got a good group here and we want to give ourselves the best chance. That might mean doing something, but it also might not.
"Sometimes things don't materialize for a number of reasons. I can't predict if we'll be involved or not. We're going to do a lot of talking and explore it, but whether it actually materializes, I don't know."
There are certain to be a lot of trade rumors involving the Hawks between now and the deadline because of their salary cap situation going forward into the 2010-11 season.
Already there have been whispers of the Hawks possibly getting involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes should the Atlanta Thrashers decide before the deadline they can't re-sign their star winger.
Bowman didn't come out and say flatly the Hawks would have no interest in Kovalchuk.
"I'm not going to comment on individual players, but what we're going to do over the next few weeks is meet and figure out where we think it makes sense to add, whether it's that type of a player or a different style or a different position," Bowman said.
"At that point we'll see what the price is to get that guy, and we'll see if it's going to make our team better. I don't want to rule anything in or rule anything out because we really haven't gotten down the path that far."
According to Bowman, the Hawks have enough money under the cap to add a player without giving up one.
"It depends on how much the player makes," Bowman said. "At that point in the season there's only 40 days to go on his contract so if you have cap space you sometimes can afford a more expensive player.
"We just have to look at how close we want to cut it, but we do have the ability right now to add a player if we want to."
Complicating the deadline for teams is the roster freeze that runs from Feb. 12-28 due to the Olympics.
It's more likely the Hawks will look at add depth on defense if they do anything.
"I think you can always use depth on defense, but if you ask all 30 teams they would say the same thing," Bowman said. "Even teams that are deep on defense are worried about defense, so I'm sure we'll look at that, but I'm actually comfortable with how our defense has played."
Bowman knows a trade that subtracts a player or two would risk upsetting the team's chemistry.
"Chemistry is very important, but having said that I think we have a really strong group here," Bowman said. "It's not where they wouldn't accept a new guy into the mix here. That part of it is not a big concern."
Hawks @ Canucks
Time: 9 p.m. Saturday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
What to watch: The Hawks look to go 4-1 on their road trip with Antti Niemi getting his second straight start in goal. The Canucks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games but will be without three of their top defensemen in Willie Mitchell (upper body), Sami Salo (groin) and Kevin Bieksa (leg). Henrik Sedin leads the NHL in scoring with 71 points while linemate Alex Burrows has 13 goals in his last nine games.
Season series: Tied 1-1.
Next: Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.