NHL Trade Speculation: 3 Best Players Available at Each Position

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIIFebruary 21, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 3 Best Players Available at Each Position

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    The NHL trade deadline is now only six days away. Teams are now in a scramble to make improvements where they need them. Some of them will succeed, and some of them will hang up the phones disappointed.

    Different teams are looking for different things.

    One team might need scoring from the wing, one might need defensive help and another might need a goaltender. They might go after the lesser-known players, but teams will want to at least see if they have the goods to acquire the best players available at each position.

    Here are the top three players available at each position.

Goaltender

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    Jonathan Bernier

    2011-12 Stats: 11 games played, three wins, five losses, .900 SV%, 2.57 GAA 

    The primary piece leaving Los Angeles in any deal involving Columbus, Bernier could also go to another team that needs goaltending help. At 23 years old, Bernier is going to be a force in the league for years to come.

     

    Josh Harding

    2011-12 Stats: 24 games played, nine wins, nine losses, .919 SV%, 2.59 GAA

    Stuck under Niklas Backstrom for his entire career, Harding will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Minnesota should move him for prospects or picks, as it has Matt Hackett ready to take the reins as backup.

     

    Cory Schneider

    2011-12 Stats: 22 games played, 13 wins, five losses, .928 SV%, 2.25 GAA

    Schneider is in the same situation as Bernier. If Vancouver wants Rick Nash, Schneider will be going the other way. As the best statistical goaltender on this list, the Canucks are going to want to make sure that they get fair value for him.

Defense

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    Jack Johnson

    2011-12 Stats: 59 games played, eight goals, 16 assists, 24 points

    As the 1A defenseman beside Drew Doughty, Johnson is quietly one of the better defensemen in the league. He will only be traded in a deal for Rick Nash or Jeff Carter.

     

    Lubomir Visnovsky

    2011-12 Stats: 46 games played, five goals, 17 assists, 22 points

    With the struggles that the Anaheim Ducks had early in the season, there was a lot of speculation that Visnovsky would be traded. Now that the Ducks are somehow back in the playoff hunt, chances are that he won't get traded. However, if the right deal comes along, the Ducks won't turn it down.

     

    Bryan Allen

    2011-12 Stats: 60 games played, 0 goals, eight assists, eight points

    Allen is not as big a name as the two other defensemen on this list, but if a team needs depth on defense, it would be smart to go after him.

Left Wing

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    James van Riemsdyk

    2011-12 Stats: 38 games played, 11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points

    After his performance in the playoffs last season, many expected van Riemsdyk to have a breakout season for Philadelphia. That hasn't exactly been the case. Now that he has been slowed down by a concussion, chances are that he will not be dealt, but you never know.

     

    Alex Semin

    2011-12 Stats: 55 games played, 16 goals, 21 assists, 37 points

    Semin might be playing his last season in Washington, regardless of whether he gets traded or not. The Washington Capitals are struggling to get into a playoff spot, and they might be ready to get rid of the problem that has been Semin. There will many teams interested if the Caps decide to move him.

     

    Ryan Smyth

    2011-12 Stats: 58 games played, 16 goals, 21 assists, 37 points 

    It is almost a sure thing that Smyth will not be traded, but if Edmonton receives an offer that it can't refuse, Steve Tambellini will have to talk to Smyth about it.

Right Wing

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    Rick Nash

    2011-12 Stats: 59 games played, 19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points

    The biggest man on the trade block, Nash might not get moved, but if Scott Howson is smart, he will trade Nash.

    Why? If Howson is fired at the end of the season and Nash isn't moved, Nash will have to stay in Columbus for the rest of his contact with the possibility of him not wanting to be there.

     

    Ales Hemsky

    2011-12 Stats: 45 games played, four goals, 21 assists, 25 points

    Not having the year he expected in a contract season, Hemsky has struggled on the young Edmonton team. The Oilers might have to accept less than they were hoping for if they're going to trade him.

     

    Teemu Selanne

    2011-12 Stats: 59 games played, 20 goals, 33 assists, 53 points

    If Selanne is dealt, he might be the most expensive rental player of all time. If Selanne wants to have one more chance at the Stanley Cup, it's not with the Ducks. He might go for a first-round pick plus a prospect.

Center

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    Jeff Carter

    2011-12 Stats: 38 games played, 12 goals, 10 assists, 22 points

    Carter was acquired in the offseason to finally give Rick Nash someone on his level to play with. That has not been the case.

    Injuries have been a concern, and he hasn't played that well when he's been healthy. Now, it's looking very likely that he will be gone come trade deadline day.

     

    Tuomo Ruutu

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

    Even with the injury and the contract talks, Ruutu's name is still out there. Carolina would very much like to hang on to him, but a contending team might give it a better choice.

     

    Mikhail Grabovski

    2011-12 Stats: 53 games played, 18 goals, 21 assists, 39 points

    Grabovski wants to stay in Toronto. Brian Burke wants to re-sign Grabovski. That being said, Grabovski just might be too expensive for Toronto. With the limited cap room the Leafs will have, it just might not be in the cards for Grabovski to remain a Maple Leaf. The smart thing might be to trade him.