Hawks GM: Trade talks are picking up

Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Tuesday he expects a busier trade market than usual leading up to Friday's draft, but he reiterated that the core of the Stanley Cup champions will return next season.

Bowman, speaking on a conference call, acknowledged the Hawks will have to move quality players because of the salary cap. He also said Chicago is looking to acquire more draft picks.

It's possible someone like Kris Versteeg, who will make $3 million next season, could be dealt for picks.

"In terms of our pick at 30, I think this year has some good depth in the draft," Bowman said. "It's an interesting draft, the top end is very good. The top couple of players are dominant forces, and then after that you may get a guy at 30 who is as good as the guy at 12 or 13.

"We're pretty confident where we pick, and if we're able to accumulate another pick somewhere, we're hopeful. We're looking to do that. We know the draft is important to our franchise. If we can pick up another asset somewhere, that's kind of our goal, because we have to continue to have young players developing and coming into our lineup each season."

Bowman said he's been busy talking with other GMs.

"I've had a lot of dialogue, talked to every GM multiple times over the last week," Bowman said. "Lots of phone calls. Obviously, it tends to pick up as you get closer to the draft.

"There's going to be some movement, not just with the Blackhawks. From what I'm hearing, other players will be moved as other teams try to jockey around. I would expect this year to be more transactions as opposed to less. From discussions I've had, sounds like a lot is going on league wide."

Losing solid players from a good team is always difficult, but Bowman looked at the bright side.

"The good news for us is we're talking here today as Stanley Cup champions," he said. "We were going to have to make changes to our team regardless of how the year ended, so it makes it much easier considering we have the Cup.

"The key move we made this year was back in December, when we signed [Jonathan] Toews, [Patrick] Kane and [Duncan] Keith. We wouldn't want to be sitting here today talking about having to get those three guys signed."

Bowman said those three players -- who represent the core, as well as Marian Hossa, won't be moved. But what about key players such as Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp and Versteeg?

"I think the core of our team [next season] will be identical to this year," he said. "Like I referenced before, we locked those guys up on purpose, because they're not going anywhere. Hossa is not going anywhere. The strength of our team will be back.

"I'm not trying to diminish it. We are going to have to move some good players out. But at the same time, I think the fans can be comfortable knowing the core will be together for a long time. That's really what's going to carry any team for a number of seasons. In order to sustain a good run like other teams have been able to do, you have to have that core, and we have that, and it's not going anywhere. It's filling in with depth which is key, with the guys who surround those core players, and it's very important. We have to rely on some young players coming in and making contributions and acquisitions to fill in those spots. I don't want to mislead and say no changes, but the core guys who everybody relies upon will be back."