Blackhawks Make Their Move

Team trades defenseman Wisniewski for Anaheim center Pahlsson

In 2008-09, the Blackhawks have had a winning formula, and they haven't needed to alter it. At 36-17-9 and fourth place in the Western Conference, it's clear the Hawks have the pieces to be successful; why tinker with what works?

Still, the Hawks had a few deadline deals to be made. They needed to acquire a center, and with their logjam at goaltender -- Nikolai Khabibulin shares time with Cristobal Huet -- it might have made sense to unload one and keep the other, picking up some decent assets along the way.

Instead, the Blackhawks only addressed the former. Today, they traded defenseman James Wisniewski and a draft pick for Anaheim center Samuel Pahlsson. Pahlsson is currently on the Ducks' injured reserve for mononucleosis and is listed as week-to-week. He has five goals and 10 assists in 2008-09.

That might sound underwhelming at first, but the trade allows the Hawks to rotate Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg to their natural wing positions more frequently. Chicago needs to win more faceoffs, and it needs someone more physical than Kane, a darting, slashing player that can be taken off the puck by aggressive defenders, to anchor the middle. Kane will no doubt appreciate the move back to his natural position -- when Pahlsson recovers from mono, that is. (Puck Daddy, a man far more informed on hockey than we, likewise calls the trade a "win-win.")

At the end of the day, it's not a blockbuster trade, but it is an important nominal improvement for the Hawks. This team didn't need to do anything major. It doesn't need to improve overnight. It just needs to keep taking baby steps toward the top of Western Conference, both this year, and beyond.

Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site,

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