With the NHL Trade Deadline under a week away, teams across the league will soon begin scrambling to either add to their potentially postseason-bound lineups or unload hefty salaries in preparation for at least a partial rebuild during the summer months.
Yes, some of the dominoes have started to fall, but all roads thus far have led to Pittsburgh, as the Penguins have added two of the most coveted names on the market in former Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray and longtime Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
But what still remain are a host of talented game-breakers, including (but not limited to) Jarome Iginla, Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, Miikka Kiprusoff, Mark Streit, Stephen Weiss and Roberto Luongo.
With so many star-caliber talents in play, there will be tense moments for players, executives and fans of virtually every team, as each will be constantly checking NHL.com and the Twitter accounts of Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun every few minutes to see what the latest developments are on April 3rd.
So, with that in mind, here's a look at the teams that are facing the most questions as we approach the deadline.
The Capitals are certainly trending in the right direction after pummeling division rival Winnipeg twice on the road before squeaking out another victory at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Unfortunately, despite the Caps' improvement, George McPhee has something to do, because leading scorer Mike Ribeiro's contract is up in July. Either Washington has to re-sign the slick playmaker before April 3rd, or they need to deal him in order to avoid losing a top-six center for nothing on the open market.
Usually, McPhee is a buyer this time of year, but with Ribeiro's uncertain future, coupled with the team's relatively unsure postseason prospects, he'll have a tough call to make next Monday—unless the Caps rebound after an underwhelming performance against the Islanders.
With the Flames squarely outside the playoff race, Jay Feaster is past the point of entertaining offers. Instead, he's certain to get rid of one of his prized assets and maybe even multiple cornerstones.
Jay Bouwmeester probably won't be moved (unless the Wings make a big offer), but Jarome Iginla will be wearing a new jersey in less than a week.
For Calgary, the option of trading Miikka Kiprusoff was essentially taken off the table yesterday, as the former Vezina Trophy winner (via Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy) all but said that he would not be reporting to play for another team if he's dealt.
Which brings us back to Iginla. For years, the Flames have appeared to be unwilling to accept the notion that the Iginla-Kiprusoff Stanley Cup window has closed, but now, Feaster seems to be at peace with that reality, so if Kipper's staying put, the longtime face of the franchise will be gone very soon.
After shipping Brenden Morrow out of town, the Stars could be parting ways with another one of their coveted offensive assets, such as Roy or Jagr.
If that's the case, it's hard to see how either player would fetch a first-rounder, so if I'm Joe Nieuwendyk, why am I so eager to get rid of one (or both) of my team's best players when the Stars are still in the thick of things for a postseason berth?
Not quite sure I understand the rationale, because the Stars have looked promising at times. And with a reasonably strong core group of young talent in place, why not make a push for the postseason?
The Bruins should be one of the final contenders to land Iginla, because right now, the Bruins don't have the offensive punch needed to capture the franchise's second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
Yes, Boston still has an extremely gifted group of two-way forwards and a number of secondary scorers, but until Tyler Seguin fully develops into the scoring dynamo we all know he's destined to become, the B's will be in tough to keep up with Pittsburgh offensively (should the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals).
The Bruins are never ones to be afraid of making a splash at the deadline, so if there's a game-breaking forward available, rest assured that Peter Chiarelli will be working the phones.
After losing both Manny Malhotra (potentially for good) and Ryan Kesler down the stretch, the Canucks are in dire need of help up the middle.
In addition, David Booth, Zack Kassian and Chris Higgins have missed time, so the Canucks' offense isn't the vaunted juggernaut that we're used to seeing.
As such, Mike Gillis will be looking to add an offensive piece at the deadline in order to shore up the attack until some of the team's scorers make their way out of the sick bay. One has to think he's regretting the Cody Hodgson-Kassian trade right now.
Fortunately for him, the Canucks have one of the most intriguing trade chips on the market in Roberto Luongo, especially now that Cory Schneider seems to have found his groove, as has been in between the pipes in each of the last five games.
There's no doubting that Luongo still has the talent and ability to be a No. 1 goaltender for a contender, but Gillis won't be parting ways with a stopper who just three years ago backed Canada's Olympic Team to a Gold Medal in Vancouver for nothing.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Sabres looked beaten and defeated, and it seemed about time for Darcy Regier to start selling off some of his expensive assets in preparation for a mini-rebuild.
But all of a sudden, Buffalo's back in the postseason hunt, so Regier will have to make some difficult decision come deadline day.
Among the most intriguing are what to do with high-priced assets such as Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers, Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford.
Vanek has been the Sabres' most valuable player this season, and he's formed a productive alliance with Cody Hodgson and longtime running mate Jason Pominville, so one has to think he'll be off the table.
But with regards to Miller, the former Olympic MVP and Vezina Trophy recipient struggled early and has been unhappy at times this season. It also doesn't help that Miller's contract expires after next season and that the All-Star will almost assuredly be looking for a new deal at least equal to his current one, which carries an annual cap hit of $6.25 million.
No, Miller probably won't be traded now, but if the Sabres drop a couple of games in the next few days, Stafford or Myers, who have both underachieved this season, could be on the block.
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