The NHL season is on 48-game hyper-drive. While the trade deadline isn't set until April 3, that is just three weeks before the postseason gets underway.
Thus, teams already struggling to establish chemistry will be looking to swing deals far before then in order to establish a short-term nucleus and make a run at the Stanley Cup. This should lead to plenty of excitement and movement, although not in the traditionally short, last-minute timeframe.
Here are some notable players who are generating the most recent trade buzz.
Paul Postma, D, Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Free Press beat writer Gary Lawless has been hearing whispers about the Jets potentially making a move before the deadline, and Postma has been at the epicenter of talks:
The Jets were rumoured to be chatting with a number of teams on the weekend and Postma's name is the one that keeps surfacing.
The Jets may decide they don't want to move Postma and wait out his developmental stage. But if [GM Kevin] Cheveldayoff determines he needs to shake up his lineup, Postma is the most likely candidate for departure.
The return of versatile All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien makes this decision easier, as does the ascent of Zach Redmond, according to an NHL executive who imparted that wisdom onto Lawless.
That's not even to mention the team's leading scorer, Tobias Enstrom, who is also a blue liner.
However, despite the incredible depth on defense for Winnipeg, Lawless does not expect a trade to go down. Cheveldayoff is building for the future, and the Jets are actually not doing a good job of keeping opponents out of the net.
The Jets rank 26th in goals against, and just 30th in penalty killing. Perhaps adding one more offensive weapon would be in the cards, but it should take a lot for Cheveldayoff to pull the trigger on a deal involving Postma.
Derick Brassard, C, Columbus Blue Jackets
Elliotte Friedman of CBC.ca notes that the rumor mill is swirling about Brassard, with the Jackets having so many assets in the impending draft, which is stacked with talent.
Once again, Derick Brassard's name is coming up. That's been an uneasy marriage, to say the least. The Columbus Blue Jackets have three first-round picks next year...I can't imagine they'd trade their own [pick] for anything less than a superstud, but the other two are strong commodities in a deep draft.
For a franchise that has just one playoff appearance since entering the league, the Blue Jackets may stand to be active and roll the dice before the trade deadline.
This 48-game season has been wacky anyway, and missing out on the postseason once again while holding onto three first-round picks wouldn't be a nightmare scenario. But those picks probably won't play right away in the NHL, which makes the pressure to acquire assets and win now intensify.
Brassard is one of the few bright spots on offense for Columbus, which has been rather putrid in finding the net since the departure of former star Rick Nash.
The Blue Jackets drafted Brassard at No. 6 overall back in 2006, and he has shown to be an effective scorer. That should make him an attractive asset for better teams, who may be willing to part ways with a more established star in return for Brassard and one of the first-round picks.
Ryan O'Reilly, C, Colorado Avalanche
Hockey Buzz reports that at least a couple of teams are very interested in the Avs' center, and inquiries are already being made:
Still hearing the Canadiens are the team waiting to see what the Avs decide to do here, but last night, later on, I began getting info the Blues (who do have a recent history dealing with Colorado) were putting feelers out there.
Ryan O'Reilly would have been eligible for arbitration after this season. But he needs to play at least six games this year to do it— adater (@adater) February 8, 2013
As Dater explains, should the arbitrator side with O'Reilly, he would either cash in a huge deal or the Avs could walk away, which would make him an unrestricted free agent this offseason. That wouldn't make much sense, since O'Reilly would command plenty of assets in a prospective trade.
O'Reilly has yet to suit up in the NHL season due to an ankle injury and missed the very beginning of the year after playing lockout hockey in Russia. He and the Avs don't appear close to reaching an agreement on a contract extension, which makes shopping him a logical choice.
With multiple franchises already expressing interest, perhaps Colorado could get some help offensively to improve its 2.1 goals per game average and league-worst power play percentage of 8.1.