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Stan Bowman: Blackhawks ‘getting pretty close’ to making trade

SUNRISE, Fla. — Stan Bowman had his phone plastered to his ear, as always, as he walked briskly through the press box at BB&T Center before the Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. This is nothing new — it’s the Hawks general manager’s perpetual state, always moving, always on the phone, always with a sense of purpose.

That purpose is quite clear now.

“I think I’ve talked to almost every team in the last couple of days,” he said. “A lot of talk.”

For months, Bowman has said he didn’t want to move any roster players, that he didn’t want to make a money-for-money trade, that he was going to be relatively quiet at the trade deadline.

Then Patrick Kane was injured. Now all bets are off, and all phone lines are open. It’s no longer a matter of if the Hawks will make a trade. It’s when. And how many.

“We’re getting pretty close,” a confident and unusually direct Bowman said. “But until it’s done, it’s not done.”

With Kane out, Bowman said he’s exploring all options. That means current roster players could be moved, not just picks and prospects. That means the Hawks will consider acquiring players that aren’t on expiring contracts. That means getting a forward or a defenseman, or both.

A source said the Hawks are particularly interested in Arizona forward Antoine Vermette and Columbus forward Cam Atkinson, both of whom are on expiring contracts. Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry is another possibility. But Kane’s injury has opened roughly $6 million of salary cap relief, and also has opened the door to a more dramatic overhaul in anticipation of this summer’s looming cap crunch.

As for the game itself, the Hawks wrapped up a home-and-home sweep of the Panthers, getting goals from Teuvo Teravainen (called up in the wake of Kane’s injury) and Brandon Saad, plus an empty-netter for Jonathan Toews. Corey Crawford made 20 saves for his second shutout of the season. The heavily pro-Hawks crowd booed lustily every time Alex Petrovic — the man whose cross-check resulted in Kane’s fateful stumble into the boards — but as Joel Quenneville said before the game, the Hawks focused more on winning the game than on getting some sort of retribution.

Quenneville has liked the response from his team since Kane’s injury.

“Early, you got a pretty good feel, and then a test comes as you progress,” he said of his team’s mental toughness. “Initially, you got a good response, but sustaining it is a challenge. That’ll be the good test for us.”

The action was more exciting off the ice than on it, as the trading has been fast and furious around the league the last couple of days. The Panthers acquired Jaromir Jagr for two draft picks on Thursday. The Kings gave up a first-rounder for Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera, a Hawks target, on Wednesday. Bowman said the asking prices have been comparable to the past couple of years, and that he doesn’t think Kane’s injury has other teams trying to gouge the Hawks.

“We’ve had a lot of contact with a lot of different teams on lots of different types of trades,” Bowman said. “You’re never quite sure when they’re going to break. We’re working at it, we’re going to keep working hard. It’s only Thursday. We have until Monday. That’s not to say we’re waiting till Monday, but there’s still a lot of talk that will take place between now and then.”

Bowman has largely stood pat the past few years, acquiring Michal Handzus in 2013 and David Rundblad in 2014. The plan was similar this year. But everything changed when Kane went down.

So did the mission.

“We’re going to keep fighting as hard as ever to get back,” Bowman said. “I know [Kane] wants to play this year, and I know the guys want him back. But we’re going to have to get going and keep winning to have that be possible.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com
Twitter: @marklazerus