The NHL Olympic break is less than a month away. There will be a roster freeze in place from 3:00 p.m. ET on February 7 to 11:59 p.m. ET on February 23. No trade activity can occur during that period. Shortly following the Olympic break comes the NHL's trade deadline, set for March 5 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
That won't allow much time for general managers to make deals to address their respective roster needs. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun speculates that could result in trade activity from late January leading up to the Olympic break. Some GMs could attempt to use the limited time frame to get the jump on their rivals. Otherwise, they risk finding limited options remaining in the trade market between the end of the Olympic freeze and the trade deadline.
The following is a ranking of the 10 NHL teams most likely to make a trade this season, their biggest needs, the assets they could move and the odds they'll make a move before the trade deadline.
Biggest Needs: First-line center, top-six winger, top-four defenseman.
Best Assets: Goaltender James Reimer, defenseman Jake Gardiner, forward Nazem Kadri.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 50 percent. TSN's Darren Dreger reports GM Dave Nonis is open for anything, be it a blockbuster or a small move. However, the Toronto Star's Damien Cox reports Nonis won't move Kadri or Gardiner unless it's for a blue-chip player of similar age. Interested clubs could find it difficult to match that request. Reimer would be attractive to struggling teams seeking depth between the pipes, but Nonis could retain him as Jonathan Bernier's backup for the rest of this season.
Biggest Needs: Scoring depth.
Best Assets: Draft picks and prospects.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 60 percent. The Devils are in a tight race with several clubs for a wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. GM Lou Lamoriello recently acknowledged he's looking to improve his club. The Star-Ledger's Randy Miller expects Lamoriello to make a move for a scorer. Miller suggested Colorado's Paul Stastny, Buffalo's Matt Moulson, Calgary's Mike Cammalleri, Florida's Brad Boyes and Winnipeg's Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi as rental-player targets. Lamoriello might prefer moving prospects over draft picks, as he lacks a first-rounder in this year's draft.
Biggest Needs: A replacement for sidelined defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, a top-six forward.
Best Assets: Prospects, draft picks.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 60 percent. GM Peter Chiarelli isn't afraid to make moves near the trade deadline to bolster his roster. If a suitable replacement for Seidenberg cannot be found among his young defenders, he could package a prospect and draft pick for a veteran defenseman. The Bruins have been linked to New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in trade rumors. A better rental-player target could be Edmonton Oilers blueliner Nick Schultz, who's an unrestricted free agent in July.
Biggest Needs: Scoring depth, goaltending depth.
Best Assets: Pending unrestricted free agents Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 60 percent. Mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they could try to move Miller, Moulson and Ott at the deadline. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported new Sabres GM Tim Murray said there's no untouchables on his club. Murray could try to re-sign Miller, but if the goalie won't commit, he'll be dealt for the best possible return. Moulson and Ott have indicated a willingness to remain, but that could depend on their salary demands.
Biggest Needs: Blue-line depth, especially on their second defense pairing.
Best Assets: Goaltender Michal Neuvirth, winger Martin Erat.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 60 percent. Neuvirth and Erat have requested trades and neither player appears to have a future in Washington. Either could be shopped for a defenseman, though Neuvirth could be the more attractive trade bait. The Capitals could target non-playoff contenders for a rental player. Calgary's Chris Butler, Edmonton's Nick Schultz, Buffalo's Henrik Tallinder, Phoenix's Rostislav Klesla and the New York Islanders' Andy MacDonald could be among their options.
Biggest Needs: Starting goaltender, defensive depth.
Best Assets: Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 60 percent. Having replaced Claude Noel as head coach with Paul Maurice, a roster shakeup could be next if the Jets fail to improve under Maurice. In a recent interview, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff acknowledged the need to either “establish a larger core” or move some players to change things. Byfuglien seems most likely to move. While still an impact player, the 28-year-old hasn't improved his defensive game and could be a better fit on a club with a deeper defense corps.
Biggest Needs: A first-line left wing to replace Pascal Dupuis, who's out for the season with a knee injury.
Best Assets: Defenseman Simon Despres, draft picks.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 70 percent. GM Ray Shero has a long history of making moves near the NHL trade deadline and is expected to do so again this season. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi reports Shero could seek a player under contract rather than merely a playoff rental player. He's fearful of depleting his depth in young assets, preferring to retain promising defensemen Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson claims the scuttlebutt around the league is Despres could be shopped for a forward.
Biggest Needs: Scoring or physical winger.
Best Assets: Young players and prospects.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 70 percent. GM Bryan Murray told Canadian Press reporter Stephen Whyno he's exploring the trade market, claiming his club is available to make a deal. He's seeking a forward who can improve either the team's scoring or its physical play. He has depth in young players (Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Stone, J.G. Pageau) to dangle as trade bait. Team owner Eugene Melnyk has given Murray permission to make moves leading up to the March trade deadline. It's expected that the Sens will pursue pending unrestricted free agents. They could target rebuilding teams like Buffalo and Calgary.
Biggest Needs: A power forward, a top-two defenseman, a quality starting goaltender.
Best Assets: Center Sam Gagner, right wing Ales Hemsky, defenseman Nick Schultz.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 80 percent. The Oilers are going nowhere fast and expected to be sellers by the trade deadline. TSN's Darren Dreger reports there's no question GM Craig MacTavish could consider moving Gagner. Pending free agents Hemsky and Schultz are very likely to be dealt. MacTavish said he won't trade right wing Nail Yakupov, and the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones reports Mac is having second thoughts over parting with his first-round pick. A significant offer for both, however, could change his mind.
Biggest Needs: Scoring depth and an experienced starting goaltender.
Best Assets: Pending free-agent forwards Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak.
Odds They'll Make a Trade: 80 percent. The Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson reports president of hockey operations Brian Burke is ready to make a deal. “We're open for business”, said Burke. The Flames are in the midst of a rebuild. Burke is impatient to make a move but must wait until the stagnant trade market improves. It's expected he will peddle Cammalleri, Stajan and Stempniak for draft picks, prospects and promising young players.