Hawks weighing options entering draft

PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday he has been busy making and taking calls over the last week.

He just isn't sure what it will all mean come Friday night when the NHL draft begins in Philadelphia.

"We're still a day before the draft, so there's a lot of things being tossed out as options, most of them which will not come true," Bowman said on a conference call on Thursday. "But you sort of need to do your homework and be prepared, so that you're in the game or in the know when things do start to break. I think there's a lot of fielding calls, but also checking in with different general managers to find out what their specific needs are."

Bowman has been active at times during the draft in the past. Just last season during the draft, he traded Dave Bolland to the Toronto Maple Leafs for draft picks, dealt Michael Frolik to the Winnipeg Jets for draft picks, swapped draft picks with the San Jose Sharks and announced a new deal for Bryan Bickell.

The Blackhawks could be in the market for a second-line center. They have been linked to talks with the Vancouver Canucks about Ryan Kesler and the Ottawa Senators about Jason Spezza. They have also reportedly been in touch with unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny's agent.

Bowman said they've been balancing possible trades and preparing for the draft. The Blackhawks have eight picks in the seven-round draft.

"We've been here for a few days already making lots of phone calls," Bowman said. "There's really a dual purpose to this time of year. Our amateur draft is exclusively focused on getting prepare for [Friday]. We talk a lot about players who we think will be available and moving them around and meeting with players. There's a good chunk of our time doing that.

"The other side of it is this is when there's a lot of movement. There's a lot of phone calls made to other general managers, agents and whatnot. In terms of a percentage, I don't know what it is. It's probably close to 50 percent. I've been very busy the last few day trying to prepare on both fronts."

The Blackhawks aren't necessarily searching for immediate-impact players in the draft. With the players they have signed in the NHL and others on the cusp of the NHL, the Blackhawks will be using this year's draft to prepare for their long-term future. It could be a lot like last year's draft where they selected four players who were just entering college and four 19-year-old European defensemen.

"We have a pretty good pipeline of players at different levels of involvement right now," Bowman said. "There's some players in Rockford who are right on the doorstep of being NHL players. There's probably another grouping that are maybe a year away. Then we've got other players who are still in college or Europe that are a couple years away.

"The players we're looking at for this year we're OK that they may not be right on the doorstep of being ready because we've got a pretty good pipeline we've been able to build up. We're hoping to maybe take some players who we know will take some development time. That's OK for us."