Top 10 Players That Will Be Targeted at the NHL Trading Deadline

Al DanielCorrespondent IIMarch 3, 2013

Top 10 Players That Will Be Targeted at the NHL Trading Deadline

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    If a couple of Cup-less captains decide to take the Ray Bourque route in pursuit of a title, there ought to be no shortage of takers among the certified contenders in the NHL.

    Other players with comparable combinations of seasoning, leadership qualities and postseason experience, whether it is in the form of success or shortcoming, either are or should soon be churning in the trade rumor mill.

    Not all of them will be on the move between now and the April 3 deadline. Some of the top names will stay true to no-trade clauses and successfully resist any transactions, while others will be withheld by their current employers to sustain an ideal playoff core.

    But none of that will stop prospective purchasers from trying their luck on any of these players because it never does.

    The transaction tempest has already picked up with such deals as Erik Cole for Michael Ryder and Ryan O’Reilly ostensibly blowing in Calgary’s direction, only to stay in Colorado through a matched offer sheet.

    With Sunday marking exactly one month until the deadline, here are the 10 names NHL fans can expect to hear the most in trade talk until the player in question is dealt or until April 3 passes.

Daniel Alfredsson

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    The longer the injury-plagued Ottawa Senators hang tight in the playoff race, the tougher a time we can expect other teams to have pursuing Alfredsson’s services. By the same token, if there was ever a case of someone’s availability and desirability going in opposite directions, this would be it.

    The fact is that Alfredsson, while still gratifyingly productive, is now 40 years old and running out of chances to contribute to a Stanley Cup-winning cause. As the landscape looks now, the odds of attaining that elusive title are significantly slimmer in Ottawa than they are in, say, Chicago or Pittsburgh.

Daniel Briere

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    Although his effectiveness on defense has always been inconsistent, the 35-year-old Briere has retained a steady productive pace for a decade. His worst years in that department have yielded confirmation that he can easily insert a healthy dose of bottom-six depth.

    In turn, it is absolutely worth looking at what happened to his current team and his previous team the last time he transferred in 2007. The Buffalo Sabres went from two-time Eastern Conference finalists to playoff no-shows while the Philadelphia Flyers rose from last place to play in the 2008 Eastern finals.

    Granted, there were other departures from Buffalo (Chris Drury) and other arrivals in Philadelphia (Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Kimmo Timonen) that year. But Briere’s last move played a noticeable role nonetheless and his acquisition can still bolster a team with leadership qualities and supplementary scoring.

    All things considered, it is little surprise that the Blues and Bruins have reportedly expressed interest, and it would be just as unsurprising if other teams do the same. Or if the Flyers just as soon keep him for their benefit.

Valtteri Filppula

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    As part of his 12th out of “30 Thoughts” last Monday, CBC analyst Elliotte Friedman quoted Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland as saying, “I’m still trying to find out what we are.”

    That inevitably translates to a notion that the Wings may or may not become sellers over the next month. In turn, interest in Filppula―a pending free agent and somewhat of a late bloomer who had 66 points last year―ought to stay solid for the full stretch.

Jarome Iginla

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    With a 5-10-15 scoring log on a team that has tallied 53 goals, Iginla has had a hand in an irreproachable 28.3 percent of the Calgary Flames’ offensive output through 19 games.

    Entering Saturday's action, the Flames were four points removed from a playoff spot with games in hand on a few adversaries, but are currently mired in second-to-last place in the West. Failure to gain ground in the coming weeks would likely make the misplaced Iginla a more coveted target for contenders.

Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider

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    As Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province aptly noted this past week, with an injury to Ryan Kesler, the Canucks need to reel in reinforcements on offense, and either half of Vancouver's stable of stoppers ought to be coveted by willing traders.

    Naturally, it will only be one or the other—or perhaps ultimately neither Luongo nor Schneider—leaving by April 3. But until a deal is done or the deadline passes uneventfully, it will not be a surprise to see the Canucks fielding a series of inquiries on both halves of their surplus NHL-caliber goaltending spread.

Brenden Morrow

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    Morrow may not be drawing the same breadth of trade talk as Iginla has, but teams could crave his presence and try to lure him over for many of the same reasons.

    There were reports of widespread interest in the Dallas Stars’ captain last summer and the speculation is catching a second wave as this spring approaches.

    Columnist Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News suspects that the aforementioned Cole-for-Ryder swap is just the first transaction for Dallas. If that is the case, trade deadline buyers ought to crave the 34-year-old, 827-game veteran’s leadership and appreciable depth-granting scoring touch.

Dustin Penner

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    Penner’s performance since becoming a Los Angeles King has been, at best, a shell of what he achieved during his time with the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers. He consistently hit double digits in every scoring column with those teams, whereas he went 7-10-7 in his first full season as a King and has tallied merely three points in his first 11 outings in 2013.

    The fact that he has struggled as a King could make him an ideal export from an L.A. standpoint. The fact that has succeeded with two other franchises may cancel out any apprehension from a potential buyer’s standpoint.

    So, too, could the fact that he is a pending free agent and that he has given comparable performances en route to a title with Anaheim in 2007 and another with the Kings in 2012. It is hard to imagine all 29 other teams resisting the opportunity to pursue a rental who may not sizzle in the regular season, but can bring championship-laden seasoning to the tournament.

Corey Perry

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    While there are plenty of reasons to believe Perry will stay with the Anaheim Ducks through this season and beyond, it is also understandable that other teams will take a stab at his services.

    Whether it is through retirement or lack of a re-signing, this season could be the last the Ducks see of veteran forwards Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. That may or may not ward off any possible cap crunch that would come with re-signing Perry, captain Ryan Getzlaf and such younger pending free agents as Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri.

    Beyond that, the fact that the Ducks are tops in the Pacific Division at (14-3-1) makes it virtually impossible to envision an ice-shattering sale in the heat of this season.

    Still, that circumstance may change over the next month. Even if it does not, other general managers will not necessarily be daunted, especially if reports like the one coming from Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail on Friday pick up traction.

    Duhatschek likened Perry’s current contract situation to that of Brad Richards with the Dallas Stars in 2010-11 and Zach Parise and Ryan Suter with New Jersey and Nashville, respectively, last year.

    He aptly concludes that, considering the route those players each took to the egress, it would not be a stretch to see Anaheim cutting Perry loose at a time when they can still reel in something in return.

Stephen Weiss

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    The more the Florida Panthers struggle (they dropped to the bottom of the Eastern Conference on Saturday), the more open Weiss is bound to appear.

    An NHL veteran of more than a decade and 20-plus goal-scorer three years running, Weiss is in a wretched, season-long slump. But the phrase “change of scenery” is being skated around by the likes of Sun Sentinel beat writer Harvey Fialkov.