NHL Trade Deadline: 13 Best Forwards Likely to Change Sides

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIFebruary 16, 2012

NHL Trade Deadline: 13 Best Forwards Likely to Change Sides

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    The NHL trade deadline is 11 days away and although trade season has got off to a slow start, hopefully it will pick up in the next few days.

    In two articles today, I will look at the forwards and the defensemen that are most likely be dealt between now and the deadline. In this article I focus on the forwards.

    Most of the teams contending for the playoffs are looking for help with with their offense to give them the boost they need to get far in the playoffs. Whether they succeed or not is to be determined.

    Some of the names on this list are bigger, but most of them are lesser names or veterans with playoff experience that are in high demand come the deadline.

    Who are the unlucky 13? Let's find out.

Rick Nash

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    2011-12 Stats: 57 games played, 18 goals, 21 assists, 39 points

    While the rumors have just have started churning and it's very likely that the Blue Jackets could hold on to Nash until the draft, I think it would be smarter for the Jackets to deal him now.

    Teams are going to be willing trade a lot of assets to acquire a player like Nash to help them in their playoff push. That might not be the case at the draft when teams won't be sure if there will be a season next year.

    Best to move him for as much as possible while they still can.

Tuomo Ruutu

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    2011-12 Stats: 57 games played, 17 goals, 13 assists, 30 points

    Tuomo Ruutu will be out for the next three to four weeks with an upper-body injury, but don't expect that to dampen any interest from other teams.

    When he returns, if he is dealt, he will give his team a pretty good boost. While not a game changer, he can help a team in almost every way possible.

Dustin Penner

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    2011-12 Stats: 43 games played, five goals, eight assists, 13 points

    It is no secret that Dustin Penner has struggled in a Los Angeles Kings uniform. Perhaps all he needs is another change of scenery to get him going.

    The Kings tried to trade him earlier in the season but were unable to find a trading partner. Someone might be more willing to take him on now rather that before.

Ales Hemsky

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    2011-12 Stats: 42 games played, four goals, 20 assists, 24 points

    Ales Hemsky isn't having the typical season you would expect from a player in a contract year. Hemsky wants a long-term deal and with a team that will have their young players coming off of their entry-level deals in the coming years, they will be given the big bucks.

    That will most likely be the reason Hemsky gets moved. On the plus side, he will most likely end up in a better situation than he is in Edmonton.

Ray Whitney

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    2011-12 Stats: 57 games played, 16 goals, 35 assists, 51 points

    This will only happen if Phoenix falls out of the playoff race. If they do, Ray Whitney will immediately become one of the most sought-after players at the deadline.

    That being said, Phoenix might want to keep him either way, so it might take a bigger deal than one would think.

Derek Roy

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    2011-12 Stats: 54 games played, 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points

    This is another player that will only be traded when his team falls out of the playoff race. In the Buffalo Sabres' case, that is more likely to happen in the next few days.

    Derek Roy is the one piece of trade bait that they could turn into a pretty good package of young players or picks.

Travis Moen

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    2011-12 Stats: 48 games played, nine goals, seven assists, 16 points

    Am I starting to sound like a broken record? Montreal is another team that has a playoff pipe dream and is holding off deals to the last minute.

    Travis Moen is another veteran with Stanley Cup experience that contending teams will be looking for to improve their team and give them that big final push to the Cup.

Paul Gaustad

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    2011-12 Stats: 50 games played, six goals, nine assists, 15 points

    For a team looking for a pest to help their playoff hopes, Paul Gaustad is their man. Not only is he a tough player to play against but he is an excellent faceoff man, so he will help a team in multiple facets of the game.

    In fact, if there is only one player moved out of Buffalo before the deadline, I would put my money on Gaustad.

Brad Boyes

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    2011-12 Stats: 43 games played, three goals, 10 assists, 13 points

    Another player traded around last year's trade deadline and has not performed up to expectations, Brad Boyes has been playing on the third line for most of the season.

    Buffalo would probably like to get out from under his salary, so it's all about finding someone to take it on.

Jason Blake

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    2011-12 Stats: 21 games played, five goals, four assists, nine points

    Jason Blake has been injured for much of the season, but for the amount of games he has played, he has a respectable point total.

    Blake would be an option to a team that is looking for some additional depth, as Blake can't be counted on to be a scorer for a team anymore.

Andrei Kostitsyn

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    2011-12 Stats: 48 games played, 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points

    While the problems that Andrei Kostitsyn had with former coach Jacques Martin are long gone, I just get the feeling that Kostitsyn needs a fresh start elsewhere. He has run his course in Montreal and needs to be moved.

    Maybe a reunion with his brother in Nashville is in the cards?

Samuel Pahlsson

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    2011-12 Stats: 56 games played, two goals, nine assists, 11 points

    Another depth forward, this time with Stanley Cup experience. Samuel Pahlsson is the third player on this list that was with the Anaheim Ducks when they won the Cup in 2007.

    He should come cheap, but the Jackets are going to want a prospect or pick, so it depends on what teams are willing to give up for his experience.

Dominic Moore

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    2011-12 Stats: 56 games played, four goals, 15 points, 19 points

    Fact: In the past two seasons, the team that has acquired Dominic Moore at the trade deadline (Montreal in 2010, Tampa Bay last season), has gone onto play in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Is that not a big enough reason to go after him?