With the 2013-14 NHL season nearing the midway point, it should come as no surprise that trade rumors are starting to sprout. The trade deadline isn't until March 5, so there is still plenty of time before madness ensues, but there is no doubt that teams are assessing what they need.
Since several teams appear to essentially be out of contention already, the trade market should be quite interesting. The new playoff structure promises to have a major impact on dealing as well, so there are plenty of factors to consider moving forward.
Here is a look at three players who could potentially be on the move as their respective teams look to shake things up.
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane has all the tools necessary to be one of the most complete players in the NHL, but he has been struggling to put everything together. Injuries have limited Kane to 28 games this season, and although he has 16 points, he has yet to live up to his immense potential. With the Jets struggling mightily in the Western Conference, it's possible that they could be looking to shake things up.
According to TheFourthPeriod.com, that shakeup may come in the form of trading Kane.
Per the report, the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers have all inquired about Kane. Although no trade is imminent, Kane is due to make $6 million in each of the next four seasons, so the Jets could conceivably decide that the money would be better spent elsewhere. Plenty of teams would love to have him, but the Boston Bruins are one who Darrin Bauming of TSN 1290 doesn't view as a great fit.
With the way the Bruins moved away from a player like Tyler Seguin, I can't see why they would be interested in a player like Evander Kane.— Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming) December 12, 2013
Even though Kane is still trying to find his way, he is just 22 years of age, and he scored 30 goals just two seasons ago. He was on pace for nearly 30 goals in last year's lockout-shortened season as well.
Big, 30-goal scorers don't grow on trees, so it will take a lot to pry Kane away from Winnipeg. If the Flyers surrender a package of Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, a prospect and a draft pick, as speculated by TheFourthPeriod.com, though, perhaps the Jets could be convinced.
It can be argued that few players in the sport of hockey have as much natural talent as Edmonton Oilers winger Linus Omark. Although Omark has been unable to translate that talent into success at the NHL level, the 26-year-old Swede could potentially break out at any time.
Edmonton is among the worst teams in the league, yet Omark has played just one NHL game this season. The Oilers' refusal to give him a chance is bizarre, and Omark is reportedly fed up with it.
Which player is most likely to be traded this season?
According to Michael Baldwin of The Oklahoman (via Swedish newspaper Norrbotten Courier), Omark has asked Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish for a trade.
Omark has been brilliant at times for the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons this season with 29 points in 29 games; however, he hasn't been rewarded for it. It's difficult to blame Omark for demanding a trade since he certainly deserves a shot to play in the NHL for some team. If the Oilers don't want to afford him such an opportunity, then they should move on.
Omark was the leading scorer in the Swiss-A League with Zug last season, as he registered 69 points in 48 games. Although Switzerland doesn't compare to the NHL, it's still a very competitive league. Also, Omark had 27 points in 51 games for the Oilers in 2010-11, so it isn't like he is a lost cause.
Omark is definitely a player worth gambling on, especially for struggling teams that are looking for answers. If Omark goes elsewhere and thrives, though, the Oilers may end up kicking themselves.
Omark may not be the only Oiler on the move this season. Forward Ales Hemsky has been the subject of trade rumors more so than perhaps any player in sports over the past couple years, but Edmonton has never pulled the trigger on a deal. With Hemsky set to become a free agent this offseason and the Oilers near the bottom of the league, though, a trade is becoming increasingly likely. According to Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun, it would be a major surprise if Edmonton doesn't move the Czech veteran.
Despite the mounting buzz and speculation, Hemsky isn't letting it get to him. Per Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Hemsky has decided to allow things to play out rather than getting worked up about it.
“You know, I always used to pay attention at the deadline,” Hemsky said Monday in Los Angeles as the Oilers prepared to face the host Kings on Tuesday. “You check Twitter, you listen to what you guys (media) are tweeting. It can get you in your head.
“There have been rumors for so long, but I have to say this is the first year I’m not really thinking about it,” said Hemsky, whose two-year, $10 million contract ends July 1 when he’ll be an unrestricted free-agent — for the second time as an Oiler.
Hemsky once appeared to be one of the fastest-rising stars in the league, racking up at least 66 points in three of four seasons from 2005-06 to 2008-09. He hasn't topped 42 points in a season since, and the 30-year-old playmaker has just 18 points this year. Hemsky does have a ton of skill, though, which means some team will be willing to roll the dice on him.
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