Could Phil Kessel be on the move from Toronto as the season moves along?
The NHL is expected to be officially back in business Jan. 12, as soon as the NHL Players' Association officially ratifies its agreement with the NHL.
Teams should start official practices the next day and games will begin Jan. 19.
That means we will be talking about hockey—the game on the ice—and not the machinations in the board room.
Once practices and games start, the reality of life in the NHL will once again head to the forefront. Some players will complete brilliantly, while others won't do as well. Some will be happy, while others won't like the way things are going and may want to play elsewhere.
Here's a look at eight NHL studs who will request a trade as the season moves along.
The Bobby Ryan trade rumors from the summer will soon surface again.
Ryan will play the role of good soldier in the early part of the year, but the Ducks don't really have much of a chance of becoming a competitive team this season under the not-so-watchful eye of Bruce Boudreau.
The former Washington head coach may have been entertaining when HBO's 24/7 cameras followed him a couple of years ago, but he doesn't have a strong coaching system and depends more on personality.
Ryan won't be able to handle the losing and will ask for a trade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs parted company with general manager Brian Burke.
While the logic behind the move is clear—the Leafs never made the playoffs during his tenure—the timing was curious.
Burke's moves in Toronto have been dissected (source: Canada.com), and acquiring Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins may have been the biggest of his stay in Toronto.
While Kessel is a big-time scorer, he has not made a great reputation as a team player. Giving up draft picks that the Bruins have turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton does not sit well in Toronto.
That could turn the heat up under Toronto and public sentiment may bother Kessel to the point where he asks for a trade.
Is the window in San Jose open or closed?
If it's not closed, the chances are that it will be shortly. The feeling here is that the Sharks are a team with more questions than answers and that they are not going to be a surefire contender any more.
If the Sharks get off to a slow start and play themselves out of contention, look for Joe Pavelski to request a trade from San Jose.
Pavelski will be a free agent after the 2013-14 season and earn $4 million per season. He does not want to play on an old, tired team, and that's what the Sharks could become.
The same logic that applies to moving Joe Pavelski also applies to moving Ryane Clowe.
Clowe is scheduled to earn a prorated $3.62 million this season, and he will be a free agent at the end of the year.
The Sharks may be looking to see what they can get for Clowe so they don't end up watching him leave through free agency and getting nothing for him.
Clowe probably does not anticipate the Sharks playing poorly, but it they do, he will want to be traded to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Thomas Vanek is the most explosive goal scorer on the Sabres. He is a remarkably talented player who can make highlight-film plays and wow the crowd with his ability to put the puck in the net.
However, he is clearly a finesse player. The Sabres were a finesse team last year and they often got pushed around.
This was recognized by head coach Lindy Ruff and throughout the league (source: Yahoo.com), and the Sabres have tried to change their makeup by bringing in more tough guys like former Dallas Stars marauder Steve Ott.
The Sabres will still need scoring, but Vanek may be made to feel like a scapegoat if the Sabres don't win consistently. He's a sensitive type who is not known for his toughness and if he feels uncomfortable, he will ask for a deal (source: Buffalo News).
Like many teams, the Boston Bruins will have to address salary cap issues prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.
They may have to get rid of salary. David Krejci is the first name mentioned whenever the Bruins are involved in trade rumors.
Krejci earns $5.25 million and he is an excellent and productive player. However, should he be the highest paid forward on the Bruins?
Krejci will get tired of hearing his name in trade speculation and he will ask general manager Peter Chiarelli to get the deal done.
Simon Gagne scored one of the most memorable goals in recent NHL history when he tallied the series winner for the Philadelphia Flyers in their 2010 second-round victory over the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers had rallied from 0-3 deficits in games and in goals in that seventh game to register the historic win.
Gagne is clearly a talented player. However, after his tenure ended with the Flyers following that 2010 playoff run, he has not been the same player.
The Flyers traded Gagne to Tampa Bay and then he signed with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent prior to last year.
Gagne played in 34 games with the Kings, missing the majority of the season due to a head injury. He scored seven goals during the regular season.
Gagne is not the kind of gritty player that Darryl Sutter likes, and that will make for an uncomfortable environment.
Gagne will ask to be traded from the Kings.
Derek Roy is a highly skilled player who can pass the puck with ease and set up his teammates. He can also score when he gets the opportunity.
However, Roy slumped in his last two years with the Sabres and they traded him to the Stars in the offseason for tough guy Steve Ott. Roy has scored 35 and 44 points the last two years.
The Stars are shooting for the moon this year and they added aging free agents Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney in the offseason through free agency. They are hoping these two 40-year-olds are good enough to get the Stars back to the playoffs.
However, that appears to be a long shot. If the Stars don't get out of the gate well, they may become a mess.
If that happens, general manager Joe Nieuwendyk will have to make moves to find a new route to success. Trading Roy may be one of them, and going back to an Eastern Conference team might please him quite a bit.