Rick Nash is living proof that an uneventful trade deadline, even in the wake of a whirlpool of rumors, does not mean a given player is staying where he is. Just wait up to another handful of months and see if Player X is dealt on the second try.
Not all of the 30 NHL clubs will ruffle their rosters between now and April 3, but there will still be players worth monitoring in the mill. They may be retained through this season’s deadline only to be exported as soon as their current team steps into the offseason.
Some franchises are currently quieter than others in this department, maybe even to the point of a virtual chatter standstill. That, too, can change as early as the summer solstice and it is worth pondering who is most prone to being dangled as soon as that team is ready for its next tweak.
Whether they are a hot trade talk topic of the present or paving a pattern sufficient to forecast their exit down the road, here is each NHL team’s front-running trade candidate.
A veteran of two-plus professional seasons and 85 NHL games, McMillan recently returned to action with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals after a six-week absence. He has yet to suit up with the Ducks this season, the last on his entry-level deal, and is facing gridlock from other young forwards such as Emerson Etem, Peter Holland, Kyle Palmieri and Rickard Rackell.
In the final year of his entry-level contract, Caron has yet to skate in the NHL after splitting his first two professional seasons between Boston and Providence. Between the current third-line occupation of Chris Bourque and the promising rise of such forwards as Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev, Caron's future as a Boston winger is uncertain.
Coming off what could be a turnaround last weekend in the AHL, though, he could make himself an enticing commodity leading up to the deadline. In turn, he can improve the Bruins' odds of picking up a desired homestretch additive without subtracting from their current NHL roster while they send him to a smaller pond in a rebuilding organization.
The Sabres' recent dismissal of head coach Lindy Ruff frankly throws a snow-pile of ambiguity on where they are turning next.
But they do have eight NHL caliber defensemen on their salary chart, five of whom are in the last year of their respective contracts. Virtually any of those five could be the easiest candidates to dangle, regardless of what Buffalo may want to add between now and the deadline.
The Flames’ two highest-grossing defensemen, Bouwmeester and Dennis Wideman, are similarly better on enemy property than they are on the home front. Calgary can clear valuable space on its blue-line brigade and valuable cap space by moving one of them before this season is up.
Although he has a heftier cap hit at $6.68 million compared to Wideman’s $5.25 million, Bouwmeester is the more logical export in that he has only one season left on his contract. Wideman, who just arrived in Calgary, has four more years on his pact after this.
The Ottawa Senators have recently been cited as one possible suitor for Bouwmeester as Erik Karlsson will be out for a long period of time.
Ellis has been respectable, at worst, in his five appearances with the Hurricanes so far, attaining a 1.74 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. However, Carolina also has a recent AHL All-Star in Cam Ward, as well as 28-game NHL veteran in Justin Peters raring to join the top team's goalie guild.
Barring an unforeseen nosedive on the part of the 26-year-old Peters, the Canes ought to be ready to make room by ushering Ellis out. Or they could go the other way around if that is deemed preferable.
The only issue about Ellis is that he is only under contract for this season, meaning time is precious to ensure the Hurricanes gain something in return if and when he leaves.
Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated labeled the Blackhawks a "dark horse" in the Ryan O'Reilly derby and listed "Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Clendening and Mark McNeill" as possible trade bait if Chicago went after this deal. Or, implicitly, any deal.
Based on the team's otherworldly start, it is difficult to envision Shaw being included in any potential package, since he has joined in on the NHL club's full ride. But if Chicago does decide it needs another piece for the homestretch and postseason, almost any combination of prospects could go, including the three Muir mentions.
The authoritative Adrian Dater of the Denver Post has declared the export of the still-holding-out O'Reilly all but inevitable. Others assent to that, as evidenced by the mention of O'Reilly in other slides both before this one and after.
The Stars are presently sitting along the playoff/non-playoff borderline in the Western Conference. And if Jagr’s exemplary, age-defying performance (11 points in 15 games) is rewarded with a convincing run to a postseason berth, then they may just as soon stand pat between now and this year’s deadline.
On the other hand, if they tumble out of contention, Dallas Morning News reporter Mike Heika cites Jagr as one fire sale candidate.
In that event, Jagr would be the most logical export. He is with Dallas on only a one-year deal and, if dealt to a team that would give him a better shot at one last Stanley Cup, could bring the Stars some enticing younger pieces in return.
All of this comes within weeks of his inconsistency and speculation that it will land him on the trading block being a particularly hot topic between beat writers. His February output seems to be a favorable turnaround, yet it is still not sufficient for a full-time slot on the game roster.
In turn, Detroit can seek an all-around benefit by packaging the pending restricted free agent and sending him to a clean sheet and a more open stable.
Both Weiss and Panthers general manager Dale Tallon are doing the responsible thing for now by tuning out the trade talk. With that being said, a lack of significant change for the individual and the team within the next month would leave next to no room for surprise if they end up parting on or before April 3.
Weiss has been a Panther for more than a decade and was never rewarded for his output in the form of a playoff berth until last year. Florida is now floundering near the cellar of the Eastern Conference past the quarter mark of this season, exponentially melting its hopes of building on 2012.
Weiss, meanwhile, is slumping in a manner that has arguably never been seen since he blossomed in the middle of the previous decade. He entered Thursday night’s action with a 1-3-4 scoring log in 11 appearances.
A change of scenery for Weiss and a change in course for the Panthers may be in order.
Amidst the defending Stanley Cup champions’ 7-6-2 start, Penner has been benched in January and continued to turn in unspectacular performances in February. This month has yielded but one assist in six games-played.
This season is unfolding much like 2011-12, when Penner seemed to vanish for several extended stretches and only perked up for mostly the middle rounds of the playoffs. The longer he takes to lasso consistency along with the team in general, the more one has to think he is a prime candidate to be jettisoned as part of a potential shakeup.
On a team that carries less than $1.5 million in spare cap space, Bouchard boasts a $4,080,000 cap hit, the heaviest among all Minnesota skaters slated to hit free agency this summer.
Furthermore, Bouchard has made recent headlines in the form of healthy scratches and demotions to the fourth line. And within the past week, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has speculated that Penguins general manager Ray Shero, on hand for a Wild-Avalanche game, has Bouchard on his radar.
Subban’s fellow blueliner Kaberle had appeared in three games beforehand and has dressed for three since, his last being on Feb. 2 entering Thursday night’s action. He has chiefly been a healthy scratch throughout this month.
Have Smiths' well-documented struggles subsided of late? Yes and no.
In the Predators' two latest outings, occurring on back-to-back nights, Smith has penned his name to a pair of scoresheets to double his point total on the year to three. Yet he was also on duty for enough opposing strikes to brook a minus-three rating.
Whether or not he stabilizes in the next month-plus could hold sway on his future with Nashville.
If and only if the Devils, who are first in the Atlantic Division, find they need to plug in a new piece, the most viable way to attain that piece would likely be to dangle the least utilized of their eight rostered defensemen.
That would be the 29-year-old Harrold, who is due to hit free agency and has dressed for only one game so far this season.
Visnovsky is barely two weeks into his Long Island tenure after creating a rocky road there from Anaheim in the wake of last summer’s trade.
Time will tell as to whether he can establish a lasting sense of contentment with his new employer. If that is not the case by season’s end, or even by the end of March, he could be dealt again and the Islanders would be wise to make a diligent decision given that Visnovsky is approaching free agency.
The sixth and seventh of CBC analyst Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” column on Tuesday both touched on the possibility of Del Zotto being involved in a deal for the aforementioned O’Reilly.
It certainly would not make sentimental sense (or Sens) to bring the recently raised ideas of Alfredsson in a Boston or Pittsburgh uniform to fruition. However, if it meant giving the aging winger a sturdier shot at a title while using a comprehensive return package to percolate a new wave in Ottawa, this would be a perfectly logical move.
The first-year Flyer is one of nine defensemen to have dressed for the team this season, one of 11 on their Capgeek chart and one of seven from that list not to also be filed on Philadelphia's injured list via The Hockey News.
More to the point, he has been struggling in his day job with a minus-seven rating. Barring a convincing turnaround, and assuming the continued health of his active colleagues, some minor-league call-ups could get a better look, make a better impression and hasten a rather quick exit for Gervais.
Carter Nacke of Arizona Sports 620 had it right last week when his column asserted that Yandle's export will not necessarily occur within this season, but there is no reason to think it cannot happen at any point beyond.
Wrote Nacke, "When it comes down to it, the Coyotes could consider a trade for Yandle at a later date, but why trade now when return could be poor and, at 26, Yandle still has plenty of time to grow?"
Yandle will still have an additional three years left on his contract after 2012-13, at which point the Coyotes can diligently determine the direction of their team. If they are not a playoff club, odds are there will be plenty of suitors willing to cut a fair deal this summer.
Joe Haggerty of CSN New England made this observation on Kennedy while detailing Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli's visit to Philadelphia during Wednesday night's Flyers-Penguins bout:
“Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy has been on the hot seat after Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero said he needed to “pick up his game” about a week ago, and he is in the final year of a contract paying him $2 million per season. Kennedy is the kind of player that could make for a nice fit as a winger on Boston’s third line if the Bruins are looking for an upgrade with a grit/offense package, and he scored a goal for the Penguins while Chiarelli was watching last night’s game.”
The fact that the Penguins are in a virtual tie with the Devils for first in the Atlantic with 22 points apiece suggests that they are not currently candidates to be sellers. However, if they start lagging and/or do not see improvement in Kennedy, it would not be a stretch to see them pursue a move with him.
The Blues have both halves of the William Jennings Trophy-winning tandem under contract through 2013-14. They also have Jake Allen waiting in the wings and looking exponentially ready for regular NHL duty.
The crowded crease will more than likely grow to be something they will need to address by the midway point of this calendar year.
Sharks beat reporter Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area wrote Wednesday in a response to a piece of fan mail, “One rumor in the Ottawa Sun recently suggested that Demers would be the most likely candidate for the Sharks to dangle as trade bait, and I agree.”
Kurz added that Demers has been a repeat healthy scratch of late, “missing three of the last six games.”
Kurz, along with TSN's Darren Dreger, hold that dealing a defenseman such as the fourth-year NHLer Demers is the way to go for San Jose. Dreger specifically cited a "top nine" forward as the item the Sharks most need to gain, which would all but inevitably mean sacrificing a rearguard.
Save for those who they are particularly keen on keeping, the Lightning should have a quantitative and qualitative stable of professional prospects to offer if and when they decide to shore up the top team for the climactic phases of the season.
Remember that, in the wake of a summer affiliation swap, this year's Syracuse Crunch team is essentially last year's Norfolk Admirals. The Crunch/Admirals are the reigning regular-season and Calder Cup champions and are again in the upper echelon of the AHL standings.
Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis told Sportsnet that he has fielded calls from his peers expressing in the veteran who has been relegated to the AHL this season.
The recent Wade Redden saga can set an example for Toronto here. Redden spent the previous two seasons strictly with the New York Rangers farm team before being bought out, waived and invited to resurface in The Show with St. Louis.
In contrast to that situation, the Leafs can make Connolly’s transfer worth their while a little more by trading him between now and April 3.
The choice between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider is hardly as obvious now as it seemed to be even immediately before the season began in mid-January. The fact remains, though, that this tandem cannot be contained within one stable for the long run.
For the sake of keeping both netminders content with their role and, in turn, sustaining a favorable vibe in the dressing room, the Canucks will ultimately have to deal Luongo or Schneider to a team seeking a certifiable starter.
Through a process of elimination, NBC Washington's Adam Vingan cited Orlov as the one defensive player the Caps could deal. Referring to a possible venture by general manager George McPhee, Vingan concluded, "Orlov may be the only big-league defenseman that would coax another team to listen to what McPhee has to say."
Through his own process of elimination, this author will take Orlov as the topmost trade candidate over any of the forwards Vingan listed, particularly the first two. Marcus Johansson is just coming off an injury while Mathieu Perreault's game log suggests he is starting to find his rhythm.
With no goals and two assists through 14 games, Wellwood is off to one of the slowest starts among the Jets and easily the slowest of his career. He is also on the cusp of free agency, a fact that in tandem with his current outlook on his current club puts him on a textbook trade trajectory.
That is subject to change, of course, but a shortage of change in performance will not elevate the likelihood of a long-term Wellwood-Winnipeg alliance. It would hardly be a surprise to see his name surface in rumors or reports in the coming weeks.