The NHL is just over a month away from its trade deadline of February 27th. As we near that date, talks and rumors about potential trades really start to heat up.
Both of the conference races are extremely tight this year. That might make for a late start to trades as teams will not know if they should make a move to rebuild, or if they still have a chance to make a run at the playoffs.
As of now, only the Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers are really out of contention. Everyone else is sitting around that 10-point mark. If teams such as the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are still sitting that far off the pace a month from now, then they will join the sellers list.
The Detroit Red Wings have spent most of the season battling at the top of the Western Conference and Central Division.
They have a very strong team and a solid record, but they are in a tight battle with the Chicago Blackhawks and St Louis Blues. One loss can drop them from the top seed to the fifth seed. With their amazing home record of 19-2-1, they really need to push for home ice in the playoffs.
For playoff contenders, they are among the leaders in available cap space. This means that they can make a bigger deal if they want and not have to be as concerned with the dollars.
They have roughly $5.7 million of wiggle room under the cap. Now some of that has been earmarked to re-sign Brad Stuart who is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The Red Wings need help on the power play and penalty kill. Their power play, while not bad, has dropped to 12th in the league. Their penalty kill is ranked 22nd in the league. In a trade they could either be looking for a top-six scorer or a grit type of player to help on the penalty-kill unit.
Who might they give up?
There are several talented players in the minors that other teams would love to have. While the Red Wings would not want to part with most of them, Brandon Smith may be the only true untouchable in the minors.
It is hard to see General Manager Ken Holland trading any key figure on the rotation, but one that may draw some interest is Jiri Hudler.
He is having a comeback year and should be near career-best totals by the end of the season. It is a contract year for him and he will likely want a raise from the $2.875 million that he is making this year.
Going into this season that was a hugely overpaid contract. If the Red Wings decide that they do not want to give him a raise, then it might be wise to trade him now while the market for him is still good.
The Red Wings do not normally go the rent-a-player route; that is, trading for a player who is in the last year of his contract.
But in such a tight race and with the idea that you need to always win now, they may take a chance.
With that said, what trades are being rumored, and what speculation has fans dreaming of those players wearing the winged wheel?