Top 10 NHL Candidates to Be Moved Prior to the Trade Deadline

Dan KelleyCorrespondent IIFebruary 5, 2013

Top 10 NHL Candidates to Be Moved Prior to the Trade Deadline

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    The calendar has turned to February, and for the NHL, the smell of the trade deadline is in the air. 

    Oh wait, that's a statement of habit.

    In this lockout-shortened campaign, the 2013 NHL trade deadline will take place not at the end of February, but on April 3, less than four weeks before the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence. By that time, contenders and pretenders will begin to discuss how they can mutually benefit one another, and players will change uniforms.

    Only weeks into the NHL season, the landscape of the league is beginning to take shape and the needs of teams with Stanley Cup aspirations, along with the financial considerations and rebuilding necessities of other franchises, are coming into focus.

    As the deadline approaches, the teams will begin to correspond and make season-changing trades.

    These are the 10 players most likely to be on the move before April 3. 

Roberto Luongo

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    I don't think this quite qualifies as breaking news, but Roberto Luongo is on the trade market.

    The hot talk of the NHL prior to the lockout was the potential destination for Lu, and while he's yet to leave Vancouver and has recaptured some starting minutes, the Canucks still have a goalie controversy on their hands (SB Nation). 

    Someone has to go, and this is the contract that Vancouver would be better off moving to a desperate team.

    Talks have been heating up surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs (thestar.com) and Washington Capitals (SI.com), and GM Mike Gillis spent time at the Penguins-Caps game this weekend, presumably doing a little scouting. 

    Some have speculated that Cory Schneider will be the man on the move, but the betting man would still put his money on Luongo packing his bags instead.

Andrei Loktionov

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    The defending champs rode their defense and goaltending to their first Stanley Cup last year, but one element of the team that is often overlooked is their depth down the middle. 

    The Kings can utilize players like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Jarrett Stoll to win faceoffs and play a reliable two-way game, leaving a player like Andrei Loktionov as the odd man out on a deep team.

    Loktionov has officially requested to be moved (NBC Sports), a scenario that would benefit him and likely allow the Kings to pad their defensive depth. 

    There seems to be no reason LA would be too stubborn about hanging onto the Russian youngster, so expect him to be part of a deal in the next few months.

Keith Yandle

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    With the Phoenix Coyotes getting more dire news about their financial woes and future in the desert, the team looks like it could be burdened by defenseman Keith Yandle's $5.25 million cap hit.

    The deal to keep the team in Phoenix fell through when prospective owner Greg Jamison failed to raise enough money to bid on the NHL-owned franchise, leaving the team's future in doubt and finances tight.

    Yandle isn't exactly the most expendable player on the Phoenix bench, but he could very well field a king's ransom for a team desperate for a high-tier defenseman. 

    There are no surefire bets here, especially because Yandle is signed to a deal through 2015-16 and thus is not an imminent threat to depart for a richer franchise, leaving the 'Yotes with nothing in return. Nonetheless, Phoenix owes it to themselves to listen to offers, which will become more and more attractive as the trade deadline approaches. 

Jarome Iginla

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    It's time for the torch to be passed in Calgary, and yes, the pun was intended.

    The Flames captain is in the final year of his contract, set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. The team is in full-on rebuilding mode, ready to ride players like Sven Baertschi to the next chapter in Calgary hockey history.

    In order to speed up the rebuilding process, Calgary needs to ensure that they don't lose their legend for nothing. It would serve the team well to trade Iginla to a team in need of grit and offense in exchange for prospects and draft picks. 

    Recent rumors have linked Iginla to the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, according to Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun.

Jonathan Bernier

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    Sooner or later, a talented backup goalie needs to leave the nest and fly on his own. 

    Jonathan Bernier has been touted for years as a player with starting netminder potential, and riding the pine behind Jonathan Quick is a great way to see your starts limited. 

    There are still questions surrounding Quick's long-term health, but if Bernier's services are not immediately required, then he could be on the move at the deadline. A rebuilding team or a borderline squad will look to get a head start on the future by giving Bernier the starting role, a role for which he has paid his dues.

Mark Streit

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    The Islanders have nine points in their first eight games and could be positioning themselves to make the playoffs, but if the team begins to fade, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun believes that Mark Streit will be moved to bring some more young talent into the Isles' locker room.

    Streit is a talented veteran and would be a welcome addition to the blue line of a team that could use some reliability in the defensive zone. 

    The Islanders, on the other hand, are looking to round out their youth movement and build a team that will be truly threatening as they finish their tenure in Long Island and relocate to Brooklyn.

Jordan Leopold

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    The transaction wire has been quiet, but as the season heats up and the pressure settles on Buffalo, the team might try to stack the offense if the right deal comes along. 

    The Sabres have given up the most goals in the league to date, so shuffling the defense could be a risky move. But if the team puts one of its surplus defenders like Jordan Leopold on the block, they could restructure the roster to get back to reaching its potential.

Filip Forsberg

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    After Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis was spotted in Washington on a scouting mission this weekend, according to The Globe and Mail, speculation began to swirl that either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider could be headed to the Capitals.

    The tricky part is the return, and during NBC's broadcast of the game, commentator Pierre McGuire speculated that Gillis could be interested in one or more young offensive guns to get a head start on point production when the Sedin twins finally begin to decline.

    One of the candidates for relocation would be the recently-drafted Filip Forsberg, an offensive star in Sweden who will soon be breaking into the NHL. If the Caps are serious about fixing their goaltending woes quickly, it could cost them their rising prospect.

Nino Niederreiter

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    A few weeks ago, Katie Strang of ESPN New York reported that Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter wanted out of Long Island.

    Niederreiter is apparently unhappy with his situation in New York, and while the team may be hesitant to give him up, they could field a decent return that would help them shore up their defense.

    Niederreiter's development has been slow and his playing time has been limited as top-six minutes go to players like John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen, leaving Niederreiter without much opportunity to pad his stats. 

    The Isles should consider Niederreiter's demands and, if a team offers them a defensive prospect to go alongside Griffin Reinhart, pull the trigger on the deal.

Stephen Weiss

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    Brian Stubits of CBS Sports speculates that Stephen Weiss's impending unrestricted free agency could mean that the Panthers will be forced to deal him before the trade deadline.

    What a shame that would be, as Weiss has been the rare sort of classy player who has stood out for a franchise that struggled to be relevant on and off the ice for years. 

    But the Panthers are building towards a successful future, and getting some return for Weiss is the right step to move that process forward.