The trade deadline will be here before we know it, and some general managers are under more pressure than others to improve their respective teams. Here are five GM’s that will be under a microscope between now and the February 27th deadline. 1. Stan Bowman, Blackhawks
At times this season, the Chicago Blackhawks have looked like world beaters. At other times, they have looked out of sorts and anything but a Cup contender. Right now, it’s the latter. The Blackhawks have lost six straight, surrendering 27 goals in the process. The goaltending has been awful, but the defense has been worse.
This losing skid has put pressure on Stan Bowman to boost a Blackhawks club that is talented enough to go deep and win the conference come springtime. Improvements need to be made, though. The ‘Hawks need a defenseman, but there really aren’t any impact blueliners available; because of that, would they opt to acquire a forward instead? Bowman has a lot of cap space to work with and can make any addition he so desires. You can bet he’ll do something. He has to.
2. Paul Holmgren, Flyers
Another GM under the gun to grab a defenseman is Philadelphia’s Paul Holmgren, as Chris Pronger will not be returning this season. Tim Gleason would have been a perfect acquisition, but his extension with Carolina wiped out those thoughts for Holmgren. The same goes for Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin. Would Montreal’s Hal Gill be a target of Holmgren’s this month?
No matter who Holmgren decides to pick up for the stretch run, that player has to help the defense in front of Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky. ‘Bryz’ and ‘Bob’ have been inconsistent, sure, but the defense hasn’t exactly helped matters. Philadelphia currently ranks 23rd in goals against average. A change on defense is needed if they wish to make some noise in the postseason.
3. David Poile, Predators
The Nashville Predators fully believe that they are contenders for both the Central Division and Stanley Cup. But can the current lineup win their first division title or the ultimate prize? Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are elite on the back end, but the Preds don’t have anyone up front that would scare opponents in a playoff series. They saw first-hand in the second round last year, when Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler single-handedly dominated the series, that you need a game-breaker in the playoffs.
GM David Poile is under pressure in two different respects. Many believe he needs to make a splash – even though it’s a seller’s market – to (a) make the Preds even more of a legitimate contender and (b) wow free-agent-to-be Ryan Suter. Without many impact forwards out there to be had, it’s a tough position for Poile.
4. Brian Burke, Maple Leafs
Toronto is in the best position they’ve been in in years to claim a playoff spot. However, there are still some areas where Brian Burke could improve his team. The Maple Leafs are rumored to be in the market for another forward, preferably a center that could make the Phil Kessel-Joffrey Lupul combo even scarier. There isn’t as much pressure on Burke as some others, but if Toronto doesn’t make a move and they miss the playoffs for a seventh straight year, the mastermind GM will definitely face scrutiny.
5. Glen Sather, Rangers
Glen Sather is in a similar position to Burke. He may not be under the same pressure as the likes of Bowman and Holmgren, but the Rangers are staring at a prime opportunity. The Eastern Conference isn’t terribly strong, meaning Sather’s club could easily do some damage and make a run at the Cup. We’ve seen GM’s in Sather’s position in the past make a lot of under-the-radar depth additions to strengthen the team. Will Sather do the same? Would a player like Ryan Smyth be of interest to a Rangers club that could use a tad more experience and/or scoring?
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