Every NHL team prefers to retain its stars, but sometime issues arise which force a general manager to consider trading away a notable player.
Free agency is often the main reason for such a move, especially if a player is in a contract year and seeking a significant raise. Age can also be a factor, for while a player's name might still have star power, his declining skills combined with a high salary could make him a liability. A rebuilding club sometimes shops one of its best players to bring in additional roster depth. Clashes with a head coach or personal off-ice matters can also make a star player expendable.
Here's a list of the most expendable stars on each NHL team this season, the reasons why they're in that category and the chances they'll be moved this season.
Why he's expendable: Hiller's an unrestricted free agent in July and will seek a raise over the $4.5 million he earning this season. The Ducks have more affordable options in Viktor Fasth, Frederik Andersen and promising John Gibson. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Nashville Predators had interest in Hiller. The New York Islanders could also pursue him.
Chance he'll be moved: There's a 50 percent chance he'll be dealt this season. Hiller's the only Ducks goalie with postseason experience, but he could be moved by the trade deadline if there's a need to bolster the team's depth elsewhere in the lineup. Otherwise, expect him to depart via free agency at season's end.
Why he's expendable: At 36, Iginla's no longer a dominant power forward. He's on pace for 46 points, which would mark the first time since 1998-99 he's scored less than 60 in a full NHL schedule. He will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, when younger talent will be available.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent, given the Bruins' current status among the Eastern Conference's top teams. The Bruins will stick with him throughout this season, but unless his offensive numbers significantly improve, they'll let him walk in July as a free agent.
Why he's expendable: Miller's a 33-year-old goaltender playing for a floundering team which is undergoing yet another rebuild. He's also an unrestricted free agent at season's end. By telling The Buffalo News that Henrik Lundqvist's new seven-year, $59.5 million contract sets the standard for goalies, he's signalling he'll be expensive to re-sign. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the St. Louis Blues could make a push for him.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent chance he's shopped by the March 5 trade deadline, especially if he's interested in a lengthy, expensive new contract. The Sabres won't risk losing him for nothing to free agency in July.
Why he's expendable: He's an unrestricted free agent in July. Though he's the Flames' leading goal scorer, the 31-year-old winger might not fit into the rebuilding club's long-term plans. On pace for a 35-goal season, he should fetch a good return if shopped by the March trade deadline. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers could make a push for him.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent he's moved by the March 5 trade deadline. While Cammalleri's open to re-signing, the Flames are going with affordable youth, which makes him their best trade chip this season.
Why he's expendable: After potting 23 goals in 48 games last season, Tlusty's managed only eight points in 32 games this season. TSN's Darren Dreger reported Tlusty was among the players the Hurricanes were shopping as trade bait for a defenseman. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, currently earns an affordable $1.6 million salary and lacks a no-trade clause.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent chance he's dealt this season. The Hurricanes are on a bit of a roll of late, leaving GM Jim Rutherford reluctant to shake up his roster. If they fail to gain ground in the standings, Tlusty could be moved for defensive help.
Why he's expendable: Though recently reacquired from the Florida Panthers, Versteeg has a reputation as a streaky scorer. With half of his $4.4 million per season cap hit being paid by the Panthers, he could become an affordable trade chip if the need arises to plug holes elsewhere in the lineup.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. The Blackhawks are playing well this season, so there's no pressing need to move him now. However, with over $64 million invested in 17 players next season, the team could shop Versteeg in the offseason if management needs to free up cap space for other signings.
Why he's expendable: Stastny's an unrestricted free agent in July, coming off a long-term contract in which he earned $6.6 million per season. With Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche are well-stocked at center. The Denver Post's Adrian Dater speculated he could be dealt if the Avs decide not to re-sign him.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent. If Stastny's unwilling to accept a significant pay cut to remain with the Avalanche, they could move him by the trade deadline. Otherwise, they'll play out the season and let him depart via free agency in July.
Why he's expendable: Since being acquired last season from the New York Rangers, Gaborik's been a disappointment for the Blue Jackets. Prior to his recent knee injury, he managed only eight goals in 29 games for the Jackets. He's an unrestricted free agent at season's end, and the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline speculated he could be dealt by the March trade deadline, if not sooner.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent once he returns from injury. Judging by Portzline's comments, Gaborik has no future in Columbus and could be part of a sell-off of veteran talent later in the season.
Why he's expendable: Age is catching up with the 41-year-old Whitney. His 33-point pace this season would be his lowest during a full NHL season. He's also an unrestricted free agent in July and has no future on a Stars team which is relying more on its young talent than its aging veterans.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent, though the odds would decrease if star winger Jamie Benn gets injured. If the Stars are once again out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline, he'll be put on the trade block.
Why he's expendable: Signing with the Red Wings as a free agent last summer, Weiss is a bust so far as their second-line center, struggling within their puck-possession system. A former 60-point center, Weiss has only four points in 26 games, putting him on pace for the worst full season of his NHL career.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. He's in the first season of a five-year, $24.5 million contract with a no-movement clause, making him difficult to trade in a season when 23 teams have limited cap space. The Wings have little choice but to remain patient with him, but management could gauge his trade value in the offseason.
Why he's expendable: Yakupov's struggling this season through the sophomore jinx. He's on pace for only 25 points, less than the 31 he chalked up as a rookie during a lockout-shortened season. If the Oilers hope to land that elusive top-two defenseman, they must shop one of their best young forwards. Yakupov's the only one with an easily movable contract.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish insists he's not shopping the still-promising young winger. Unless Yakupov demands a trade or MacTavish finally gets an offer too good to refuse, the young right wing will stay in Edmonton this season.
Why he's expendable: The Panthers are struggling this season and are expected to shop some veterans. The 23-year-old Kulikov could have the most trade value. He's also a restricted free agent at season's end with arbitration rights and is expected to seek an expensive raise.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent chance he's traded this season. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported the Maple Leafs have held interest in Kulikov for some time. The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reported the Avalanche inquired about the young Russian. He's also been linked to the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes.
Why he's expendable: Williams, 32, is the oldest of the Kings' top scoring forwards and has one season remaining (at a $3.65 million cap hit) on his contract. With the team having over $55 million invested in 16 players, and young Tyler Toffoli showing promise as a scoring winger, Williams might become odd man out if the Kings need additional cap space.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Given Williams' playoff experience, they're unlikely to move him this season. Next summer would be the earliest opportunity to gauge his trade value.
Why he's expendable: Heatley's no longer the 50-goal threat he once was, as his production has steadily declined since his 82-point performance in 2009-10. He's on pace for only 25 points, the lowest single-season total playing a full schedule in his NHL career. Heatley's an unrestricted free agent at season's end and won't be re-signed.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent chance he's traded this season. His reduced production is one issue. The other is his expensive cap hit ($7.5 million per season), meaning the March trade deadline is likely the earliest to move him. Failing that, the Wild will allow Heatley to depart via free agency.
Why he's expendable: Though Briere's only in the first season in his two-year contract, he's been a disappointment so far, on pace for a 35-point performance. Of late he's been playing right wing on the third line. That's not what the Canadiens expected from a guy earning $4 million per season.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Briere's known for his clutch playoff performances, so the Habs will keep him around for the 2014 playoffs. He's also got a no-movement clause. If he's willing to accept a trade next summer, he's still got enough name value to attract some attention.
Why he's expendable: Though currently the Predators' leading scorer, Legwand's also an unrestricted free agent in July. If the Predators fail to gain ground in the standings, The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported GM David Poile might shop some veterans later this season. The 34-year-old Legwand could be among them.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent. It'll depend upon what Legwand seeks for a new contract and where the Predators are in the standings by the March trade deadline. If they're still in the chase, Poile could retain him for the playoffs and worry about the contract talks later.
Why he's expendable: The 41-year-old Jagr is among the Devils' best players this season, but he's also on a one-year deal and becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. If the Devils fall out of the playoff chase, Jagr could be shopped to a playoff contender. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to him, as the Dallas Stars last season shipped him to Boston.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent he's shopped by the March trade deadline. It'll depend on where the Devils are in the standings by the trade deadline. He also lacks a no-trade clause, making it easier for the Devils to find trade partners.
Why he's expendable: Vanek has developed good chemistry with captain John Tavares, but Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshynski claims he's likely to join the Minnesota Wild in July as a free agent. Vanek should fetch a good return for the Isles, who'll likely hang onto him as long as possible this season to maximize his trade value.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent chance he's shipped out by the trade deadline. Vanek had little interest in re-signing with the rebuilding Sabres, so it's doubtful he'll stick with the rebuilding Islanders.
Why he's expendable: Del Zotto's struggling under Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who's made the 23-year-old a healthy scratch several times this season. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims the Rangers' asking price is a top-four defenseman, which is too expensive for most teams right now.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent chance he's gone by the trade deadline. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, and the Rangers might prefer moving him rather than going through a nasty arbitration hearing. If unable to find any takers this season, the Rangers will shop him in the offseason.
Why he's expendable: Anderson's being outplayed this season by 22-year-old Robin Lehner. The 32-year-old goaltender has one season remaining on his contract, after which he's eligible for unrestricted free agency. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa claimed the Senators hoped to move Anderson, just as they did Ben Bishop last season, but his trade value this season is fading.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent. The Senators won't move him this season unless they're out of playoff contention by March. Failing that, they could shop him during the summer, perhaps for that elusive defenseman they've been seeking this season.
Why he's expendable: Once a key part of the Flyers blue line, Meszaros is now on the team's third defense pairing. He was a frequent healthy scratch earlier in the season and often mentioned in trade rumors. He's slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and has no future in Philadelphia.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent chance he's gone by the trade deadline. His $4 million salary cap hit combined with his on-ice struggles this season dampen his trade value, but it could improve by March as playoff contenders shop for defensive help.
Why he's expendable: Yandle's among the Coyotes' leading scorers, but they already have a skilled puck-moving defenseman in unheralded young superstar Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Yandle could fetch a terrific return for the Coyotes, perhaps a top-line winger who can eventually replace aging captain Shane Doan.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Coyotes management has resisted the temptation to move him in the past. With stable ownership for the first time in years, the team doesn't have to trade him for budget reasons. Still, if a rival club offered up a good young scoring forward, it might listen.
Why he's expendable: Niskanen was frequently mentioned earlier this season in trade rumors. He's an unrestricted free agent in July, and the Penguins' limited cap space next season might make him the odd man out. If their blue line is fully healthy by the trade deadline, Niskanen could be peddled for depth elsewhere in the lineup.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Niskanen did a fine job filling in for Kris Letang when he was sidelined earlier in the season. With Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik currently on the shelf, he won't be moving anytime soon. The Penguins could lose him to free agency in July.
Why he's expendable: Boyle is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July, and at 37, he's approaching the end of his career. Younger defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun could push him down the blue line depth chart. The Sharks have over $46 million invested in 16 players next season and must also re-sign Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. If it comes down to a choice, they'll part ways with Boyle.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. His skills and experience still make him valuable to their blue line this season. His contract demands will determine if he'll finish his career as a Shark or test the free-agent market.
Why he's expendable: Halak's eligible for unrestricted free agency at season's end. Rumors persist the Blues aren't fully confident in his ability to carry them deep in the playoffs. Since joining the Blues in 2010, he's been hampered by injuries—plus he clashed last spring with coach Ken Hitchcock over his playing time.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch claimed the Blues will stick with Halak this season. Though the Blues are linked to Buffalo's Ryan Miller in the rumor mill, they can't afford to pick up his expensive salary this season.
Why he's expendable: Though Malone's a well-respected, hard-working forward, his style results in frequent injuries. Prior to his latest injury (bruised foot), the 34-year-old winger was on pace for 30 points, the lowest in his career in a full NHL season. He's no longer worth $4.5 million per season.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent. Malone has a modified no-trade clause if he lists 12 teams he would accept being dealt to. His experience and grit are worth keeping if the Lightning are playoff contenders. If they're out of the race by March, however, they could shop him.
Why he's expendable: Regardless of how well Reimer plays, he won't supplant Jonathan Bernier as the Leafs starter. He's a restricted free agent at season's end with arbitration rights. The 25-year-old goaltender could be of interest to the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, who desperately need help between the pipes.
Chances he'll be moved: 50 percent if the Leafs fall out of playoff contention by March. Given the heavy workload the Leafs goalies face this season, they'll keep Reimer for the rest of the season. Expect the Leafs to get lots of calls for him in the offseason.
Why he's expendable: A former three-time 20-plus-goal scorer, Booth's been a huge disappointment since the Canucks acquired him two years ago from the Florida Panthers. He's on pace for a career-worst 20-point performance. Injuries have significantly hampered his performance. His $4.25 million per season contract takes up a big chunk of their valuable cap space.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent during this season. The Canucks would have to pick up part of his salary to make him attractive in the trade market. His injury history also makes him a tough sell. He could receive a compliance buyout in June.
Why he's expendable: Erat's requested a trade and the Capitals are trying to honor his wishes. He's unhappy over his limited playing time in Washington. A once-reliable 50-point winger, his playmaking skills have deteriorated over the past couple of seasons.
Chances he'll be moved: 75 percent. The Capitals want to move him, but his cap hit ($4.5 million) and declining performance make him a tough sell. They could ship him to a club that must remain above the cap minimum. Failing that, he'll be a compliance buyout in June.
Why he's expendable: Considered the Jets' franchise player, Kane is on pace for 42 points, his fewest in a non-lockout year since his rookie season. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported of possible tension between Kane and coach Claude Noel, prompting speculation he could be dealt.
Chances he'll be moved: 25 percent. Kane's only 22 and remains a very promising talent. Though he'd bring the Jets a healthy trade return, they could regret it if he goes on to stardom elsewhere. His expensive contract and cocky attitude, however, will keep the rumor mill churning.