The next couple of weeks should be extremely interesting around the NHL. Since the season is flying by at a rapid rate due to the condensed schedule, each team will have to revise its goals for the season, and that should spark some movement.
It will be tough for teams to wait all the way until the trade deadline, which isn't until early April, to make final decisions. There just isn't enough time built in for moves at that point to make the desired impact.
With that in mind, let's examine some of the latest rumors as teams start figuring out what the shortened season likely holds for them. Fans should know before long how active their favorite teams are going to be as the deadline nears.
Los Angeles Kings
The defending champions are three points behind the final playoff spot, well off their expected pace after a thrilling run through the playoffs last season. One reason for those struggles is the poor play of Dustin Penner, who has just one point in four games.
He was a key role player for the Kings in the postseason, but has seemingly fallen out of favor. Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reports teams are interested in the winger if Los Angeles decides to move him.
Penner has four 20-goal seasons under his belt, but his regular-season play over the past two seasons for the Kings leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps a change of scenery would do him good, especially if he's not in Los Angeles' plans.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers
The Maple Leafs have been one of the biggest surprises since the lockout ended. They are sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind the top spot. The last time Toronto made the playoffs was the 2003-04 season.
One team that's been watching the Leafs closely is Edmonton. The Oilers have had scouts at the last three Toronto games, according to TheFourthPeriod.com, and are keeping their trade options on the table after a slow start.
It's not a perfect match because the Oilers don't have any reliable depth at the goaltender spot, which is Toronto's biggest need. That said, the Leafs do have some pieces that could fit with the Oilers, so it will be interesting to see if this situation picks up any steam.
Columbus Blue Jackets
As expected, the rebuilding Blue Jackets are quickly falling out of the Western Conference playoff race. They are still a couple of seasons away from contending. Although they traded their main asset—Rick Nash—in the offseason, they still have a few useful trade chips.
One is center Derick Brassard, who has scored seven points in 13 games. The aforementioned Friedman reports he's one name that keeps coming up in trade fodder around the league. His market will likely increase if fellow center Ryan O'Reilly isn't moved.
Brassard doesn't get a lot of attention because he plays for the lowly Blue Jackets. He's scored at least 40 points in each of the past two seasons. His terrible plus/minus rating is more due to the talent around him than his defensive ability.
Whether Columbus decides to make him available is yet to be seen.