NHL Trade Speculation: 10 Players Teams Are Drooling over

Riley Kufta@@RileyKuftaContributor IIIFebruary 15, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 10 Players Teams Are Drooling over

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    The trade deadline is coming fast, and speculation has heated up a great deal in the past few days.  

    Most of the deals each season are minor; involving a third or fourth liner, fifth or sixth defenseman, backup goaltenders or prospects. But every season, there are a few names, who, once viewed as potentially available, just about every team in the NHL will be interested. 

    Most of these players will not be traded, but that won't stop GMs from making calls and exploring the pieces to make it happen. 

    This slideshow will take a look at which players have created that league-wide interest.

10. Pavel Kubina

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    Steve Yzerman has announced that he's still unsure whether or not the Tampa Bay Lightning will buy or sell on Feb. 27.  

    Surely, the team will be involved in some last minute deals, and the nature of those deals will depend on the team's record over the next two weeks.  

    If they do end up sellers, one player who will be heavily sought out is defenseman Pavel Kubina.  

    Kubina has incredible trade value; not only because he's the third heaviest player in the game and can dish out highlight reel hits, but he also has a Stanley Cup on his resume and has a contract which expires following this season, making him a perfect rental.  

    Recent speculation has tied Kubina's name to the New York Rangers, but it's safe to assume if the Lightning are sellers in two weeks, they won't be the only team showing interest.  

9. Lubomir Visnovsky

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    Last year, he led all defensemen with 68 points. This year, injuries and overall poor performance have Lubomir Visnovsky on pace for just 36 points. 

    One one hand, you could say his productive decline and age have lowered his trade value, but on the other you could say those things are what make him available. If he were on pace for another league leading season, the Ducks would not be willing to part ways with him.  

    The Anaheim Ducks don't seem to be giving up just yet, but in two weeks time they may be forced to make that decision.  

    According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN

    "Top offensive blueliner Lubomir Visnovsky could still move before Feb. 27, however, although the Ducks aren't giving him away. He’s not a rental player, he’s got another year on his deal, so Anaheim will move Visnovsky only in a traditional hockey deal, not a rental deal where it gets a bucket of pucks."

    If he is available, there are numerous teams in the NHL who would be interested in acquiring a defenseman capable of a 68 point season. 

8. Sam Gagner

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    It has been widely assumed that Sam Gagner, along with Ales Hemsky, could be finding a new home this trade deadline.  

    When the Edmonton Oilers drafted him sixth overall in 2007, they had high expectations of the young forward; and his recent play has shown why.  

    Whether his recent tear was a glimpse of a great future or simply a hot streak, teams are paying attention.  

    While Steve Tambellini is adamant that Sam Gagner plays a critical role in the future of the team, the calls are rolling in.  

    With 15 points in a five-game stretch, the offers could be too good to refuse.  

7. Ray Whitney

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    Ray Whitney's name can, believe it or not, be mentioned in the same breath as Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom and the rest of the NHL's ageless.  

    The 39-year-old currently sits among the top 20 scorers in the NHL, and with a Stanley Cup under his belt, he will be a huge asset to any team.  

    Although the Phoenix Coyotes currently sit in eighth in the West, many believe their finances and the expiring contract of Ray Whitney will make them sellers this trade deadline.  

    Recent rumors have the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins as the teams interested in the veteran forward, but as time goes on, numerous more will likely emerge. 

6. Teemu Selanne

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    The Anaheim Ducks' domination of late has led people to believe that they not only will not be sellers this trade deadline, but they may actually make a push for the playoffs down the stretch; sitting just eight points out of a playoff positions as of today.  

    Earlier this season, when the Ducks were in the midst of their disastrous start, GM Bob Murray stated that Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu were the only untouchable players on the team.  

    Despite Murray's encouraging comments, Selanne did not think a trade was out of the question.  

    While a trade still remains unlikely, Selanne has incredible experience and trade value, and a player of his calibre will get a trade if he wants one. 

    Selanne's comments will not be forgotten by any team. 

    If Anaheim's winning ways come to an end, the Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers will be the front runners among many in acquiring the Finnish Flash.   

5. Tim Thomas

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    Many people deny the possibility of trading the two time Vezina Trophy winner and reigning Stanley Cup champion. 

    The reality is, Tuuka Rask is more than ready to take over, and Tim Thomas is still playing at an elite level, and will be for a few more seasons. His trade value may never be higher than it is now. 

    The rumors surrounding Thomas have been quiet as of late, but expect them to heat up as the deadline gets closer. When they do, don't be surprised to see the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and possibly the Florida Panthers involved.  

4. Bobby Ryan

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    Bobby Ryan was the first player to hit the trade market this season when he was publicly called out during the Ducks' atrocious start to the season.  

    As mentioned before, the team believes it can make the playoffs, but if that were to change in the next few weeks, they could be major sellers.  

    The chemistry and play of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry recently has likely squashed any rumors that they were available, leaving just Bobby Ryan out of the young stars. 

    Early rumors had the Sabres as the top team for a potential deal, and as Buffalo's play hasn't improved since, that is still a possibility. Lately, rumors have shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  

    With the offensive talent Ryan has displayed thus far in his career, there will be a lot more interest than that at the deadline.  

3. Cory Schneider

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    Cory Schneider is not only one of the best backups in the league; but he's also one of the best goalies. 

    As much as fans would love to keep the young goaltender, Roberto Luongo's contract makes that near impossible.  

    Set to become a restricted free agent, Schneider may never have higher trade value.  

    Many fans have assumed that Schneider will stay on the Canucks through the playoffs as an insurance against a Luongo postseason meltdown; but recent rumors could suggest otherwise.  

    His name was recently involved in a rumor involving Corey Perry, but was quickly dismissed as it made no sense for either team. 

    Yesterday, another, much more feasible rumor surfaced involving Blue Jackets' forward Rick Nash.  

    The Canucks, along with fans would love to keep Schneider; at least for the remainder of this season, but the calibre of the forwards who could be available at the deadline could be too good for Mike Gillis to refuse.  

2. Ryan Suter

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    The Nashville Predators are in a unique situation at the moment. They've got two elite defenders with expiring contracts; one headed to restricted free agency, the other unrestricted. The way they handle the situation plays a huge role on the teams' success in the coming years.  

    If they were to trade one of the defensemen at the deadline, I personally believe it would be Ryan Suter. 

    As an upcoming restricted free agent, Shea Weber's trade value remains intact through to the entry draft, whereas Ryan Suter's diminishes significantly due to the fact that a team could give up a ton for him, and have him leave after the playoffs with no compensation coming in return.  

    I'm sure David Poile will be receiving calls about both players, but Suter may be the topic of the majority of conversations.  

    As fellow BR writer Max Von Kleist puts it, "The consensus is they will hang on to Weber and Suter for their potentially last significant playoff run, and then try to deal or re-sign the players before free agency." 

    This may be true, but that won't stop the Philadelphia Flyers and other teams from trying to convince them otherwise.  

1. Rick Nash

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    Rick Nash rumors have spread like wildfire in the past day, with many believing a trade is imminent.  

    Rumor has it that Nash has given GM Scott Howson a list of teams he'd be willing to waive his no trade clause for; and the star forward made no attempt to deny the possibility of a trade, stating "I'm a Blue Jacket right now."

    A player of Nash's size with the hands he has will definitely catch the attention of every team, but there are just few who are on Nash's list, and even fewer who could offer what's needed in return. 

    While it has yet to be confirmed, rumor has it that the teams listed are the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. 

    The rumored list isn't enough to hold back further speculation, with a rumor coming out involving Rick Nash and the Vancouver Canucks.  

    Of all the teams mentioned, the teams who can actually offer something in return are the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks.  

    Whether a deal goes down or not is anyone's guess, but this will likely be the largest story of the deadline.