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The NHL's lockout-shortened season is now more than halfway complete, and not surprisingly, the trade rumors are starting to heat up.
Contenders are looking to improve, teams battling for the last few playoff spots want to add another vital piece or two and franchises toiling at the bottom of the standings are ready to sell, sell, sell.
The trade rumors are starting to heat up, folks, and I've got some of the juiciest tidbits here. Let's break down a few rumors that could seriously impact the playoff picture this year.
This just in: Jarome Iginla is on the trading block, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are interested.
OK, OK, so those rumors have been pretty steady over the past several weeks. But as Rob Rossi of TribLive.com writes, Iginla might not actually be a great fit for the Penguins despite the team's interest in the forward:
The Penguins would like to bolster their depth on defense and at forward, preferably with a top-four defenseman that specializes in own-zone play and a winger that could add scoring to the third or fourth lines. Center Brandon Sutter (13 points) and left winger Matt Cooke (12) are the only bottom-six forwards at double-digits in scoring.
The club is interested in Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, a right winger and impending free agent. But he might not fill a top-six role with the Penguins, and Iginla has a no-movement clause in his Flames contract.
In other words, Iginla's price may outweigh his eventual role with the team. The veteran superstar is going to come with a top-six price tag in any trade, but if his role is less than that it isn't worth pursuing for the Penguins.
Yes, the price tag will be steep, as Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes:
All eyes will be on Calgary RW Jarome Iginla with speculation building he's going to be dealt. The asking price set by Flames GM Jay Feaster will likely be: A No. 1 pick, a prospect and a roster player.
"You're not getting the same Jarome Iginla. He's still a good player, I just don't know that they're going to hit the home run they expect to hit," said a league executive. "That being said somebody will overpay."
The Penguins, Predators, Sharks, Red Wings and Bruins will make a pitch for Iginla. Word is Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby wouldn't mind if Iginla was on his wing
Iginla is likely to be the highest-profile player to move this season.
Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers
Might the New York Rangers trade Marian Gaborik before the trade deadline?
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN thinks that is a very real possibility:
The New York Rangers aren't necessarily shopping winger Marian Gaborik, but he's indeed available if it helps them achieve some of their targets on the trade market.
The Blueshirts covet a right-handed, top-four blueliner and would also like to add a couple of bottom-six, grinding type forwards.
If Gaborik can be flipped in any trade to get those assets, I believe the Rangers would move him.
Gaborik is obviously a very skilled player, but as LeBrun notes, the Rangers are pretty stacked at right wing with Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. That may make Gaborik—who has eclipsed 40 goals and 75 points in three of the past five years and currently has eight goals and nine assists this year—expendable.
The Rangers obviously won't give Gaborik away, but if LeBrun's report is to be believed, he's available for the right price. Hey, if nothing else, the Rangers simply keep a player that has 49 goals in his last 109 games.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently sitting in a playoff position, but with teams like the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers within striking distance in the standings, the team surely does not feel comfortable in its position.
Thus, a trade here or a trade there—and keeping contributors to the cause like Tyler Bozak—could be just the impetus the team needs to make a playoff push.
From Darren Dreger of TSN:
Bozak has seven goals and nine assists on the season, so the Leafs would be wise to keep him around for this season, even if they lose him to free agency next year.
We return to Garrioch, who writes that the Buffalo Sabres are ready to blow up the roster and begin rebuilding for next season:
Despite the denials of GM Darcy Regier, league sources confirmed to QMI Agency Saturday the Sabres are indeed ready to "blow it up" and pretty much every player on their roster is available before the April 3 trade deadline.
Sources say the Sabres aren't going to move high-scoring winger Thomas Vanek or top prospects Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson or Alexander Sulzer. Nobody would take Tyler Myers' contract, but every player is up for discussion.
Captain Jason Pominville is indeed among those available and he'd be an attractive option for any team. He has a cap hit of $5.3 million through next season and is a heart and soul player who could help anybody. Tough deal to make.
A player who will likely get moved: RW Drew Stafford.
The Sabres are well down the standings and would pretty much need to go on a Chicago Blackhawks-esque streak to end the season to have any chance of making the postseason. Sometimes, it's best to just count your losses, trade off your assets and return ready to fight another day—or in this case, another season.
Don't be surprised if the Sabres become major sellers.