NHL Trade Rumors: Recapping Hottest Chatter from Around League

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2013

February 5, 2013; Washington, DC, USA;  Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away. The lockout-shortened regular season is moving along at a blistering pace. 

But while the Chicago Blackhawks continue to build on their ridiculous point streak, a handful of other NHL clubs are looking to make moves in order to make a last-minute playoff push and perhaps contend for the Stanley Cup title in 2013.

Here we'll recap some of the hottest trade chatter around the league heading into the weekend.


Blues Searching for Defense

St. Louis is still clinging to a playoff spot in the Western Conference standings despite going 6-8-1 following its impressive 6-1 start to the season.

According to ESPN NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, the Blues are in search of some pre-deadline help in the form of an effective blueliner:

Speaking of the Blues, sources around the league say GM Doug Armstrong is on the lookout for a left-handed, top-four type blueliner, a guy who can play with either Alex Pietrangelo or Kevin Shattenkirk on either of the top two pairings. 

Defense has become a serious problem for the Blues over the course of the season. St. Louis' 70 goals allowed nearing the season's halfway point is the second-worst mark in the Western Conference. Only Phoenix has surrendered as many goals among Western Conference teams.

The Blues have lost five of their last eight games overall heading into the weekend.


Phil Kessel Era Coming to an End in Toronto?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoff mix at the season's halfway point, but that doesn't mean they are content to sit still as April's trade deadline approaches.

According to The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont, the play of former first-round pick Nazem Kadri (25 points) has made right winger Phil Kessel expendable:

Meanwhile, rumors persist in Toronto that general manager Dave Nonis may unload Kessel prior to the April 3 trade deadline. 

The 25-year-old Kessel is in the midst of his seventh NHL season and has racked up 20 points this season for Toronto. Kessel scored a career-high 82 points a year ago for the Leafs, but an ideal trade would bring a "franchise center" in exchange for Kessel, according to Dupont.

He hasn't gotten it done in three and a half seasons with the Leafs, so it's hard to blame Nonis for wanting to make a change. 


Jarome Iginla Bound for the Steel City?

Jarome Iginla has only worn one NHL jersey since he entered the league in 1996. But that could change soon. The veteran right winger will turn 36 and become a free agent this summer, making him one of the most sought after players on the block this March.

The following comes from the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch:

It’s believed the Penguins – among other teams – have targeted Calgary Flames winger Jarome Iginla, who will be a unrestricted free agent July 5...

It's difficult to imagine Pittsburgh getting any more explosive on offense. After all, the Pens' 86 goals through the first half of the regular season is tops in the league. But if Sidney Crosby and company do indeed acquire Iginla this season, they will be bringing on a player who has already racked up 18 points in 21 games this season. 

There's certainly no rush right now for the Pens to acquire Iginla, as they are currently second in the Eastern Conference standings heading into the season's second half.


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