Every NHL team carries players that would be attractive trade bait, and this season, there are several clubs with more significant assets to work with than others.
It's not a coincidence these teams currently find themselves outside the NHL playoff picture. Some are trying to improve their chances for contention. Some are desperately hoping to avoid sliding out of the chase altogether. Others will go into sell mode (especially near the March trade deadline) once it's apparent they don't have a reasonable chance to reach the playoffs.
The following is a list of 10 NHL clubs with the most trade assets to work with this season, their respective needs and the players they could move before the trade deadline.
The Trade Bait: Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Matt Moulson, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford.
Team Needs: The Sabres need help at both ends of the rink, ranking near the bottom of the league in offensive and defensive categories.
Chance of a Deal: Odds are Miller, Ott and Moulson (all unrestricted free agents) will be moved by the March trade deadline. The Buffalo News' Bucky Gleason believes overpaid underachiever Leino is playing his final season as a Sabre, but he's likely a buyout candidate in June. Stafford could be retained as coach Ted Nolan is committed to improving his performance.
The Trade Bait: Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Chris Butler, Sven Baertschi, Mikael Backlund.
Team Needs: The Calgary Sun reports interim GM Brian Burke believes the Flames must get bigger and more physical. They need more scoring punch, a skilled puck-handling defenseman and an experienced starting goalie.
Chance of a Deal: Expect free agents like Cammalleri, Stajan and Stempniak to be aggressively shopped for players with size and skill. Burke recently demoted Baertschi, while Backlund has struggled this season. Don't be surprised if those two end up on the trade block.
The Trade Bait: Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty, Justin Peters, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey.
Team Needs: The Hurricanes need more scoring depth on the wings. They also seek an experienced mobile defenseman to replace Joni Pitkanen, who's out for the season with a heel injury.
Chance of a Deal: Until recently, it seemed Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford would pull the trigger on a deal, but CBC's Elliotte Friedman reports the club's recent improvement could stay his hand for now. The Hurricanes are carrying three goalies, and Peters could be dealt for the right offer.
The Trade Bait: Marian Gaborik, Nikita Nikitin, Artem Anisimov.
Team Needs: Depth on right wing, though that should be partially addressed when Nathan Horton makes his much-anticipated return. They also need a top-six left winger and experienced defensive depth.
Chance of a Deal: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson doubts the Jackets re-sign Gaborik. Though a disappointment for the Jackets, the veteran winger should still fetch a quality return by the March trade deadline. Nikitin and Anisimov have also disappointed this season, but their trade value should attract interest from contenders seeking depth near the trade deadline.
The Trade Bait: Ales Hemsky, Ilya Bryzgalov, Nick Schultz, Nail Yakupov.
Team Needs: The Oilers lack a true starting goalie, an established top-two defenseman and defensive depth on their checking lines.
Chance of a Deal: Hemsky's the most likely to move. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch believes the Oilers could get a top pick for him. That's doubtful, but if the 30-year-old winger stays healthy, he should be worth a decent roster player. GM Craig MacTavish is reportedly unwilling to move Yakupov, but he'll have to be part of the package if MacTavish hopes to land that elusive stud blueliner.
The Trade Bait: Dmitry Kulikov, Shawn Matthias, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Brad Boyes, Tom Gilbert, Tim Thomas.
Team Needs: The Panthers are near the bottom of the league in most offensive and defensive categories.
Chance of a Deal: Come one, come all to the most anticipated NHL fire sale of this season. It's believed Panthers GM Dale Tallon intends to shed salary and rebuild with younger talent. Kulikov is the most likely to be dealt. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported the Colorado Avalanche had serious interest in him. Matthias has also attracted some interest around the league.
The Trade Bait: Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner, Lubomir Visnovsky, Evgeni Nabokov.
Chance of a Deal: Expect GM Garth Snow to be busy in the New Year. Newsday's Arthur Staple reports Snow has spent weeks shopping for a goaltender. Vanek's a free agent at season's end and not expected to re-sign, meaning he'll attract considerable attention near the trade deadline. Snow could peddle Grabner, Visnovsky and Nabokov for whatever he can get.
The Trade Bait: Craig Anderson, Milan Michalek, Joe Corvo, Cory Conacher, Eric Gryba, Eric Condra.
Team Needs: The Senators are getting outshot in far too many games this season. They're reportedly seeking a defenseman and a top-six winger.
Chance of a Deal: GM Bryan Murray remains a buyer but could become a seller if the Senators fall further out of playoff contention in the New Year. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Murray is seeking a winger for Jason Spezza's line, while The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports he also has interest in Rangers blueliner Michael Del Zotto.
The Trade Bait: Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Ray Emery, Wayne Simmonds
Team Needs: Though the Flyers' defensive game has improved in recent weeks, the blue line still lacks skilled depth. They haven't been the same since Chris Pronger's career-ending concussion/eye injury.
Chance of a Deal: Having moved within striking distance of a playoff berth, the Flyers will be buyers. Should they fall out of the chase by the deadline, they could peddle pending free-agents Timonen and Emery. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported some executives would be surprised if Simmonds was dealt, but given management's unpredictability, they wouldn't rule it out.
The Trade Bait: Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Mark Stuart.
Chance of a Deal: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff must do something soon to shake this club out of its inconsistency. Rumors persist over Kane's trade status ever since TSN's Bob McKenzie recently reported of tension between the winger and coach Claude Noel. Kane would fetch a nice return, but it remains to be seen if Cheveldayoff goes to that extreme.