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As trade deadline nears, speculation ramps up

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates after scoring a short-handed goal against the Dallas Stars during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP)

With just four days left until the NHL trade deadline on Monday afternoon, rumors and speculation dominate the thoughts of hockey fans everywhere. The players aren’t immune to that, either.

“I think everyone’s watching, everyone’s looking around the league to see what’s going to happen, whether it’s with our team or with different teams,” Patrick Kane said after Thursday’s morning skate. “But you try to block all that stuff out. You know the date’s coming up sooner rather than later, maybe there’s going to be some changes maybe not.”

There will almost certainly be changes for the Hawks, who have more than $4 million of cap space to play with, and clear needs at left wing and on defense. A source said Thursday that the Hawks have actively been exploring several of the top rental forwards on the market, including Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd, Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker, and Carolina’s Eric Staal. TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported Thursday that the Hawks have “serious interest” in the Vancouver duo of forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the latter of whom would have to waive a no-movement clause.

“We’re happy with the team we have in here, but at the same time, you saw what happened last year when guys like [Antoine] Vermette and [Kimmo] Timonen came in, and other players that we’ve acquired at the deadline in the past, too. It’s been beneficial for our team.”

Teuvo Teravainen, who is unlikely to be dealt but who would make a tantalizing option for a seller looking to get better and younger, said the only way to deal with deadline week is to ignore it as best as you can.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “You never know. For myself, I don’t really think about it at all. I just try to play the games. Every day’s a new game and a new chance to play good. You can’t worry about everything else.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus