With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Chicago Blackhawks:
Record: 36-17-4, 76 points; 1st in Central Division
Unrestricted free agents: Michal Rozsival, D; Brandon Mashinter, F
Restricted free agents: Andrew Shaw, F; Marcus Kruger, C; Richard Panik, F; Jiri Sekac, F; Phillip Danault, C; Dennis Rasmussen, C
Projected 2016 draft picks: 8 (1 first)
Projected 2017 draft picks: 6 (1 first)
Needs: Top-six left wing, top-four defenseman.
Surpluses: Veteran forwards, forward prospects, defense prospects, 2016 draft picks
Players Potentially in Play: Bryan Bickell, Shaw, Kruger, Viktor Svedberg, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Teuvo Teravainen, Ville Pokka, Mark McNeill
Likely status: Buyer
Skinny: The Blackhawks lost a significant amount from their 2015 Stanley Cup championship roster, haven't possessed the puck as much this season, and continue to search for more balanced scoring. Still, they haven't missed a beat in the standings, leading the Central Division and Western Conference. As the trade deadline approaches, Chicago has virtually locked up a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Goalie Corey Crawford is having a career year, the core group of players, each with long-term contract, is still strong, and the cast of new characters has replenished most of what was lost. Still, general manager Stan Bowman could be active prior to the deadline. Chicago could use an established top-six forward to play left wing on the first line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa. It could also stand to bolster its defense for a playoff run by adding a proven top-four defenseman. Bowman already has made three trades for depth, acquiring veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi from the Pittsburgh Penguins along with forwards Panik from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Sekac from the Anaheim Ducks. All three trades were tied to the NHL salary cap. Acquiring Scuderi for Trevor Daley freed up $1.05 million in cap space, according to war-on-ice.com; Panik and Sekac were acquired mostly because each can become a restricted free agent. Should Bowman work a trade that doesn't require a player on the active roster to be included, the Blackhawks could have up to $3.5 million in cap space on deadline day. That number could increase if players whose contracts count toward the cap are traded. Bowman will likely seek rental players who can become unrestricted free agents. He'll also be looking to trade Bickell, who is on his second stint with Rockford of the American Hockey League this season. Shaw, 24, would be more enticing to offer but difficult to give up.