How would you rate the readiness of some of our recent draft picks: Tuomo Rutuu, Igor Radulov, Pavel Vorobiev and Mikhail Yakubov, to step up to the NHL level and help out the club? -- Todd Johnson, Lake in the Hills, Ill.

Todd, from what I've heard, Ruttu could come over and play right now in the NHL. Of course the Hawks have to sign him first, same with Vorobiev. The reports from Norfolk on Radulov and Yakubov is that they both have to improve their work habits before they'll be promoted.

The Hawks are playing well, so it may not be a time to quibble. But, given their continuing vulnerability on offense, I don't understand why they seem so quick to unload promising offensive talents like Todd White (this month's player of the month) and J.P. Dumont. What's the reason? -- Richard Flamm, Berkeley, Calif.

Richard, I'm not sure what the story was with Todd White, but as far as J.P. Dumont, I think there was a feeling that after suffering a couple of concussions, he might be a bit gun-shy about going into traffic. In hindsight, that probably wasn't a very good deal.

Bob, I know the Hawks don't have a quality second goalie right now, but haven't the Hawks learned from last year that Thibault is going to need a break once in a while or else he is going to fade down the stretch. I believe he is on pace to play in more than 70 games this year. How serious is this problem? -- Tom Stehura, Seattle

Why are the Hawks not pressing more to get a veteran goalie for the playoff drive? What would happen in Jocelyn gets hurt at the end of the year and then it's too late to find someone. Agree or am I missing something? --Steve, Rockford, Ill.

Tom and Steve, I asked Mike Smith recently if Michael Leighton were up to stay and he said not necessarily and that Steve Passmore had been playing better lately. I think that barring injury, Thibault is going to go the rest of the way playing most of the games. I think Leighton should play once a week. But if something should happen and Thibault gets hurt, then the Hawks will have to go out and overpay for someone.