Chicago Blackhawks trade rumors: Depth the only goal for defending champs

Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

The defending champs looked primed for a run at another Stanley Cup, which means deadline day might be quiet in Chicago.

The Chicago Blackhawks are the first team to win multiple championships in the salary cap era. This year, the club will attempt to become the first team to defend a Stanley Cup title since the Detroit Red Wings accomplished the feat in the late 90s.

That means expectations are high for the Blackhawks, with anything but a Stanley Cup a disappointment. Entering the deadline as the favorites to win the Cup, Chicago will be in a position to improve the roster however they deem fit.

While that could mean minor alterations, the defending champs will likely be fairly quiet as the deadline comes to pass.

Depth, every champion's best friend

Chicago is one of the most complete teams in the entire league and the only thing that could drastically derail them is the onslaught of injuries. The club has made deep postseason runs over the last several years and some of its best players participated in this year's Olympics, which adds up to a lot of games for a lot of important guys.

If injuries hit in the playoffs, the Blackhawks are going to want to have capable players to plug into the lineup. Could this motivation result in manager Stan Bowman looking to add depth players? It's pretty much the only thing that could lead to an active Blackhawks contingent at the deadline.

Cap constraints

In the event Bowman did want to add, he doesn't have much room to work with. The Blackhawks are up against the cap and any move is likely going to require matching salary going the other way. There are ways the team could manage this, but it's more of an academic undertaking than a practical projection of what might occur before the deadline.

Unrestricted free agents

Chicago has four active pending unrestricted free agents in Michal Handzus, Brandon Bollig, Peter Regin and Sheldon Brookbank. If the team needs to move money, these are their likely options.

Staying the course

While anything is possible, Chicago appears to be a team that is set. Any move will likely be to secure depth and won't result in major pieces moving either way.

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