With three-and-a-half weeks to go before the NHL's trade deadline, the rumors are starting to pick up. The NHL's trade deadline isn't one that receives a lot of media attention, but it's one of the more active ones amongst the major sports. Big name players are always swapped, and usually it isn't much of a secret who will be on the move.
Defensemen are a huge part of a championship-caliber team, as they help take the pressure off of the goaltender down the stretch. Let's take a look at the top five defenders that could be donning a different sweater before the calendar turns to March.
Bryan Allen, 31, is a guy not many people have heard about due to his true defensive play. Having registered no goals and only seven assists in 53 games so far this season, his play isn't made for the stat sheet. The solid 6'5", 226 lbs defenseman has been a force for Carolina, blocking 114 shots and racking up 66 hits so far this season.
According to Ted Kulfan of the Detroit Daily News, the Detroit Red Wings may have their eye on Allen as they look to acquire a blue-liner before the deadline. The Flyers could also be in play for Allen after fellow Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason re-signed with the team earlier this week, according to Sam Carchidi of philly.com.
After being the subject of trade rumors last month that he would be traded to Philadelphia for forward James van Riemsdyk, it appears Luke Schenn may not be headed for the orange and black after all. When van Riemsdyk suffered a concussion in mid-January, the talks subsided.
However, while Philadelphia could still be an option, Schenn's name has come up in a blockbuster trade that would bring Columbus forward Rick Nash to Toronto, according to Toronto radio host Bill Watters. While there could be some truth to it behind closed doors, Toronto GM Brian Burke said he hasn't "ever" discussed a trade for Nash.
In the upcoming weeks, there may be a clearer picture of where Schenn may land, if anywhere, but for now we'll have to see how the next couple weeks unfold. The 22-year-old hasn't even entered his prime and is a top option for all teams looking for a defenseman.
Veteran Hal Gill is another guy whose name has been tossed around in recent weeks. The gigantic 6'7", 241 lbs defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and all signs point to him being dealt before the deadline.
Sam Carchidi of Philly.com suggests that Philadelphia may be a possible destination for Gill, although it seems that there may be a difference in opinion about him within the organization. Other possible landing spots are Florida, Ottawa and Pittsburgh, who have all called to inquire about Gill's availability, says the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch.
Perhaps the defenseman whose name has been mentioned the most in recent rumors is Nashville's Ryan Suter.
The 27-year-old is in the final year of his four-year $14 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1. According to CSN Philly, Suter alluded to the fact that he would not sign an extension with the team before the end of the season. This sent trade talks into a frenzy, which haven't stopped yet.
After various reports that the Flyers (yes, the Flyers again) were in talks to acquire Suter, the Courier Post reported that Suter downplayed the rumors in a recent interview.
Despite all of the swirling rumors, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that an anonymous Eastern Conference GM told reporters that the Predators were unlikely to trade Suter before the deadline. Whether this is true or not, Suter will surely be the subject of many phone calls to the Predators on and prior to February 27.
Teammate of hot commodity, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber is the best defenseman that could be on the move. Suter's name has been thrown around more, but Weber is the real prize of the pool. The 26-year-old has been nothing short of spectacular in recent years, and his size at 6'4", 234 lbs makes him that much more desirable.
As much as it may sound like a broken record, the biggest suitor (publicly at least) has been the Philadelphia Flyers, who have been involved in Weber rumors since December. It was generally believed that Ryan Suter would be dealt before Weber, but with the recent talk that he isn't going anywhere, Weber may be quietly back on the market.
Shea Weber is an unrestricted free agent after this season, but there are no guarantees that he'll be back. Time will tell if he is actually dealt, but the physical defenseman with a 100+ mph slap shot is the true prize on the market.