NHL Trade Rumors: 7 Players Who Need to Be Dealt by Deadline

Ben TaylorContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2012

NHL Trade Rumors: 7 Players Who Need to Be Dealt by Deadline

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    The NHL trade rumor mill is in overdrive. With exactly one week until the deadline to swap players, teams and general managers are feeling the heat.

    These are critical times that cannot only affect the outcome of the current season, but also the direction of a franchise.

    Teams on the cusp of the playoff picture must decide whether to add that extra piece. Organizations eyeing a run at the Stanley Cup are considering if their current roster can bring them a championship or if an addition will put them over the top.

    Meanwhile, there are teams looking to unload some of their talent because, for one reason or another, they no longer fit.

    With that understanding in mind, here are seven players who need to be dealt by the February 27 trade deadline.

Rick Nash

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    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    The trade talk surrounding Rick Nash simply will not stop. He is the hottest name and talent on the trade market, playing for the worst team in the league.

    Despite being the face of the franchise, the Blue Jackets need to deal him because of the return he will provide.

    Columbus has so many holes to fill on its roster that trading Nash has become a necessity. As a 27-year-old with five All-Star appearances in his nine-year career. he will fetch a very nice ransom.

    At the very least, he should be able to get the Blue Jackets a top goaltending prospect, two young players and a draft pick.

Jeff Carter

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    Nash’s teammate, Jeff Carter is another name that continues to be thrown around in trade speculation. In his seventh year in the NHL, Carter has scored 29 goals or more in his past four seasons.

    Unlike Nash, though, a trade of Carter is necessitated by his attitude.

    Since arriving in Columbus before the start of this season, Carter has been unhappy. He was shocked the Flyers chose to trade him, and his attitude has not improved with the difficult season he is enduring with the Blue Jackets.

    Not surprisingly, this makes it slightly more difficult to trade him.

    Plus, coming back from a shoulder separation in early January, potential trade partners also must be satisfied with his health.

Filip Kuba

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    After Pavel Kubina was sent to the Flyers last week, Filip Kuba is one of the most enticing veteran defenseman remaining. He is a large, puck-moving blueliner who is having a nice season at the age of 35.

    His age and pending unrestricted free agency, though, mean the Senators need to trade him.

    After a disastrous last season in which he finished as a minus-26, his value is currently at an all-time high. This season he has averaged over 23 minutes of ice time per game and is a plus-16.

    While Ottawa is in the thick of the playoff hunt, it would be well-served to get a high draft pick or mid-level scoring threat for Kuba before his likely departure as a free agent.

Paul Stastny

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    Stastny is another relatively young player who many might be surprised to learn is being shopped around.  In essence, teams that lose out in the Rick Nash sweepstakes may turn to him as their next best option.

    Plus, with $6.6 million owed to him in each of the next two years, the Avalanche should want to move him.

    As the secondary option to Nash, Colorado will not be able to obtain the same amount of talent for Stastny as Columbus will for its top talent. However, as a perennial 20-goal scorer, he will bring the Avalanche at least one player who can make an impact now, plus a prospect and a draft pick.     

Marek Zidlicky

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    Much like Jeff Carter, Zidlicky makes this list because of his attitude with his current team. The eight-year veteran defenseman has been scratched in multiple games this season and feels as though he is not being used appropriately by Wild head coach Mike Yeo.

    Given this and the fact that the average age of their team is under 27 years old, the Minnesota front office needs to deal its 35-year-old blueliner.

    Unfortunately, it may be difficult to get much in return, because on the ice this season Zidlicky has been less than impressive.

    In 39 games played, he has a minus-7 rating with zero goals.

    The Wild, therefore, must be able to convince trade partners his current output is a function of his displeasure in Minnesota and with a change of scenery he will be more productive.  

Ales Hemsky

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    In a rebuilding Edmonton Oilers organization, Ales Hemsky has been disappointing in his eight-plus seasons. As a lifetime Oiler, he has only eclipsed the 20-goal plateau twice and never produced like many expected.

    This season, in fact, he is a minus-15 with just four goals.

    As a pending unrestricted free agent, though, Edmonton must try to maximize its return for him.

    He is not a cornerstone player who will be a dramatic difference-maker for a team. However, with 21 assists this season, he can move the puck and could be a nice right-wing piece to add for a team looking for a little extra push heading into the playoffs.

Antero Niittymaki

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    With Antti Niemi their starter and Thomas Greiss as the primary backup, the San Jose Sharks have no need to keep Antero Niittymaki around. The only goaltender to make this list, he was injured to begin this season and cleared waivers as of January 26.

    The injury, plus the $2 million owed to him this year, have made him unattractive to nearly every NHL team.

    Regardless, the Sharks need to move him.

    For teams without young netminders who are starved for goaltending, the Sharks might be able to arrange a deal to swap Niittymaki for a player with a similar contract.

    Any trade is unlikely to change the Sharks’ current product, but it would allow the team and Niittymaki to move on.