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Stan Bowman already has trade winds blowing for Blackhawks

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman

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Updated: January 25, 2012 8:10AM

Ask Blackhawks players about their season, and they’d tell you, as if they’re reading from the same cue card, that they can be better.

For most teams, it’s a version of coach-speak. But for the Hawks, who have the most points in the NHL and an 8-1-1 record in December, there’s some truth to it.

After a rough stretch, the Hawks’ situation in goal has leveled off thanks to Ray Emery’s emergence and Corey Crawford’s improvement. After weeks of little production, the Hawks’ depth players are starting to chip in more. And after some awful displays, the Hawks’ special teams have found consistency. This is a team that’s starting to play to its full potential.

General manager Stan Bowman still has concerns, but there aren’t many.

“You need to address them if guys aren’t performing well,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “That’s [more] how I look at it than in terms of production. It’s how has their performance been? Have there been consistent efforts? Have they not been making costly turnovers? Have they been filling their role? And if they’re starting to not do that, then you have to look at it.”

On paper, the lack of depth appears to be an issue. Bryan Bickell, Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland have had their struggles in the first 35 games, but Bowman doesn’t see it that way.

“I know we didn’t have four 30-point scorers at this point last year,” Bowman said, referring to the 62 goals and 145 points Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane have totaled.

“Most teams have one guy in the top 10, 15 or 20. We have four. So when four guys are that productive, it’s hard to expect the other guys to be productive partly because of necessity. We’ve been ahead more than a year ago and, as a result, I don’t think there has been much of an emphasis on secondary scoring.

“It’s funny, I’ve talked to other GMs, just talking about your team, my team and how you’re playing. They say, ‘You guys must be doing great.’ I said, ‘Our secondary scoring has actually been down.’ And they all kind of laugh. They say, ‘Secondary scoring? You’ve got a lot of primary scoring. How much secondary scoring do you really need?’ I guess when you look at it from that perspective, I see their point. What I’m saying is that it balances out a little bit.”

Bowman and his staff, though, have been preparing to be active as the Feb. 27 trade deadline nears. He has the salary-cap space to do so.

If he could make moves that improved his team now, he would, but Bowman said others aren’t ready to trade, at least not the players the Hawks are keeping tabs on and envision being available.

“As it is right now, there are a number of teams that are probably long shots to get in [the playoffs],” Bowman said. “But they’ve only played 30 or something games. They’re not going to give up on their season yet and trade their players away. It’s a big waiting game.”

The Hawks’ injury situation also won’t change things. There is time for forwards Marcus Kruger and Daniel Carcillo to recover from their head injuries. Bowman also said he has been pleased for the most part with the players he has recalled from the Rockford IceHogs.

“I don’t look at it from an injury perspective,” Bowman said. “I look at it more as, are there certain players that can enhance the guys that we have here or add to our mix. We’re spending a lot of time talking about that right now.”

Bowman plans to give up picks and prospects to get those players.

“Whether it’s draft picks, players in Rockford or players that are unsigned, they are basically the three pools that you have to go get something that can just jump on your team,” Bowman said. “I don’t expect us to be raiding our current roster, to take this guy out to get this guy, because then you’re not much ahead of the game, unless by taking this guy out, you have a guy in the minors, which could happen. We’ve got a few options. But we’re not looking to weaken our team and get draft picks.”

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