As it often does, the NHL trade rumor mill is beginning to heat up as the second half of the season gets underway.
Joel Quenneville's recent lineup decisions have left fans wondering what he is trying to accomplish (ie. scratching Jack Skille and Jake Dowell tonight), but what we also have to consider is whether or not the front office is playing a role.
Is it possible that the Hawks are testing out a lineup without players that could be on their way out? Unless Goliath is suiting up for Dallas tonight, that's the only explanation for skating John Scott over Jack Skille and especially Jake Dowell, who has given the Hawks very consistent 3rd/4th line production.
It's no secret that the Hawks are in need of a formidable 3rd pairing defenseman. Nick Boynton, Jassen Cullimore and Jordan Hendry are AHL-level defensemen and can't be counted on if you want to contend for a repeat. Stan Bowman has to realize this.
According to a source close to the organization, Jack Skille has been involved in multiple trade scenarios recently, including a deal with Toronto that fell through last week. The proposed deal started simple but ended with Brian Burke wanting to get more big pieces involved than the Hawks were willing to shop. The deal would have been one of the biggest in recent NHL memory.
While the Hawks weren't considered one of the front-runners, a rumor picked up steam last week that involved the Leafs shopping former Hawk Kris Versteeg. Just something to keep in mind.
We haven't seen Jake Dowell's name in any trade rumors but his benching in Anaheim and consecutive scratches are mind-boggling. As our friends at Committed Indians laid out nicely earlier today, the statistics do not justify Dowell being scratched over any center not named Jonathan Toews.
Joel Quenneville usually has a straight forward answer when asked about roster decisions but his responses regarding Jake Dowell don't add up.
As it stands, the Blackhawks are handicapping themselves by icing a team that is less talented than it would be with Dowell and Skille in the lineup.
If the reason is trade-related, let's hope Bowman closes a deal quickly for our sanity.