Activity in the NHL rumor mill has significantly increased since the end of the league's Christmas “trade freeze." Now into the second half of the schedule, every club has different needs to address.
Stanley Cup favorites will seek depth to improve their chances of winning a championship. Playoff bubble teams will try to bolster their rosters in hopes of clinching a postseason berth. Non-contenders will try to get a head start on rebuilding for next season by attempting to shed expensive salaries and aging veterans.
The Olympic break (February 9-25) is fast approaching, which will be followed by a 10-day window leading up to the March 5 trade deadline. As a result, the currently stagnant NHL trade market could soon become quite busy.
The following is a look at the most intriguing trade rumors for all 30 NHL teams, along with analysis and predictions for each rumor.
The Rumor: The Ducks are interested in New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.
Analysis: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson claims general manager Bob Murray seeks a defenseman with a right-handed shot who can also provide experience to Anaheim's youthful defense corps. Matheson believes they're targeting Girardi, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. He believes they could offer up a package of young assets (such as defenseman Luca Sbisa) to get him. Despite Girardi's potential free-agent status, the Rangers won't move him while in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Prediction: The Ducks must look elsewhere (Calgary's Dennis Wideman, perhaps?) for an experienced right-handed blueliner.
The Rumor: The Bruins could shop defenseman Adam McQuaid for “a top-four guy.”
Analysis: The Bruins hope to replace injured blueliner Dennis Seidenberg from within their ranks. If that doesn't work out, The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson claims McQuaid, a rugged stay-at-home defender, could become trade bait. Moving the 27-year-old, however, would remove a key physical element from their defense. GM Peter Chiarelli values McQuaid's contributions as a shutdown defender.
Prediction: Chiarelli can draw upon his depth in prospects to acquire a playoff rental defenseman without giving up a key roster player like McQuaid.
The Rumor: Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues.
Analysis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch is the latest pundit to join the choir calling for the Blues to acquire the Sabres goaltender. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss notes the current Blues tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have questionable playoff records. He also points out the Blues are tight against the salary cap and likely unwilling to pay the Sabres' steep asking price of young players and draft picks.
Prediction: They will stick with Halak and Elliott for the rest of this season and perhaps pursue Miller as a free agent this summer.
The Rumor: Cam Ward to the Edmonton Oilers.
Analysis: Despite the Oilers' recent goaltending moves (Devan Dubnyk to Nashville, acquiring Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles), ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believes the Oilers could seek a more established starter. He believes Ward could be an offseason trade option. It'll take a lot to convince Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford to move Ward, who also carries a no-trade clause in his contract. The Hurricanes need him if they hope to clinch a playoff spot.
Prediction: Ward won't be traded this season. It remains to be seen if Rutherford will entertain offers for him this summer, and that's only if Ward agrees to be dealt.
The Rumor: Mike Cammalleri to the Los Angeles Kings.
Analysis: TSN's Darren Dreger reports Cammalleri is on the Kings' list of rental players. The 32-year-old winger began his career in Los Angeles. He was traded to Calgary in 2008 nearly a year after his contentious contract negotiations were settled via arbitration. Cammalleri also played for Kings coach Darryl Sutter during the winger's first tenure in Calgary, which could work in his favor. Cammalleri must make a full recovery from his current concussion to remain a trade candidate. The Flames will probably want draft picks and prospects in return.
Prediction: If Kings GM Dean Lombardi holds no bitterness toward Cammalleri, a return to Los Angeles is possible.
The Rumor: The Blackhawks could move a defenseman for a center.
Analysis: In an interview with CSN Chicago, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Lazerus said he believes the Blackhawks need affordable depth at center. He suggests a move comparable to last season's acquisition of Michal Handzus, who paid big dividends in the playoffs. Such a move could cost them a roster player. Lazerus believes they should draw upon their depth at defense. Possible candidates include Nick Leddy, Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Kostka.
Prediction: If they do move a defenseman for a center, the 22-year-old Leddy could be on the move by the trade deadline.
The Rumor: Marian Gaborik could be moved at the trade deadline.
Analysis: Prior to being sidelined by a knee injury and a broken collarbone, Gaborik was struggling to score earlier this season. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer and The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline claims of no contract talks between the two sides. The Jackets, meanwhile, have surged in Gaborik's absence, thanks in part to Nathan Horton's debut in December. Clubs seeking playoff rental scoring will come calling.
Prediction: For the second straight trade deadline, Gaborik could be on the move. Given his lengthy injury history and UFA status, the Jackets shouldn't expect a significant return.
The Rumor: Paul Stastny to the Montreal Canadiens.
Analysis: In December, the Denver Post's Adrian Dater claimed the Canadiens were scouting the Avalanche heavily all season, with the focus on Stastny. Though the 27-year-old center is eligible for free agency this summer, his performance has drawn praise from coach Patrick Roy. While there's been no contract talks between the two sides, the Avs could retain Stastny for their playoff push.
Prediction: Barring a dramatic collapse in their play leading up to the March trade deadline, the Avalanche will keep Stastny. They'll worry about his contract status at season's end.
The Rumor: Ray Whitney to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Analysis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Coyotes seek a scoring winger and could be interested in Whitney, a former Coyote. If the Stars are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, they could shop pending free agents like Whitney. The 41-year-old winger has a modified no-trade clause that lists 10 teams he won't accept being dealt to, giving him final say over potential destinations.
Prediction. Given the good relationship Whitney had with Coyotes GM Don Maloney, he could accept a return to Phoenix as a rental player.
The Rumor: The Red Wings should shop defenseman Kyle Quincey.
Analysis: The Detroit Free Press' Helen St. James made the case earlier this season for the Red Wings to shop Quincey. She suggested flipping him for a more affordable defenseman or a draft pick, freeing up cap space to invest in other acquisitions. It's possible Quincey might improve with a different team. His struggles this season, however, adversely affects his trade value. They might get a draft pick for him.
Prediction: The Red Wings are unlikely to find many takers for Quincey.
The Rumor: Sam Gagner to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Analysis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch recently speculated the Leafs could have some interest in Gagner. Garrioch believes Gagner would be a good fit with the Leafs, but they might have concerns about his $4.8 million-per-season salary. The 24-year-old is, at best, a second-line center. The Oilers are believed to be fielding offers for Gagner, whose no-trade clause doesn't kick in until next season.
Prediction: With Tyler Bozak recently returned from injury and Dave Bolland expected back before the playoffs, the Leafs have no need for Gagner.
The Rumor: Brad Boyes to the New Jersey Devils.
Analysis: NJ.com's Randy Miller recently listed Boyes among six scoring wingers who could be on the Devils' radar. Their offense is struggling this season and is in need of scoring depth. Boyes also carries an affordable $1 million salary this season and could be had for a draft pick. He isn't a strong defensive player and has a poor playoff record.
Prediction: The Panthers could shop Boyes by the trade deadline if they're out of playoff contention. He could interest the Devils but will be lower on their list of trade targets.
The Rumor: Matt Greene to the Edmonton Oilers.
Analysis: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson noted Greene was a healthy scratch for several games earlier this month. He's also an unrestricted free agent this summer. Matheson doesn't expect a trade now but suggests the Oilers pursue him via free agency. Greene's been plagued by injuries this season and is currently sidelined by concussion, which would dampen his trade value. If the Oilers are interested, the Kings might listen.
Prediction: The Kings' focus is on bolstering their scoring depth. Greene on his own won't attract what they need.
The Rumor: The Wild could have interest in Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets.
Analysis:The Jets are struggling to get back into the Western Conference playoff race. Byfuglien's been the focus of trade speculation for several weeks. Sportsnet's Billy Jaffe doubts the Jets trade Byfuglien. If they do put him on the market, Jaffe believes the Wild could be among those interested in the Minnesota native.
Prediction: It would take a significant offer to convince the Jets to trade Byfuglien to a division rival. Probably far more than the Wild would be willing to pay.
The Rumor: Daniel Briere to the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Ott.
Analysis: Briere was a healthy scratch earlier this month. His unhappiness over his situation sparked talk of the Canadiens shipping him back to Buffalo for Sabres captain Steve Ott. Briere has since seen more playing time, due in part to Alex Galchenyuk being sidelined with a hand injury.
Prediction: Wishful thinking. The rebuilding Sabres have no interest in an ageing “blast from the past.” They could re-sign Ott, who's indicated his willingness to remain and help in their rebuilding plans.
The Rumor: The Predators could trade David Legwand.
Analysis:The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims they're listening to offers for the 33-year-old. The long-time Predators center is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. His current contract pays him $4.5 million per season. Unless he's willing to accept a “hometown discount,” it's believed they could move him at the trade deadline.
Prediction: Trading Legwand won't bring a return that would improve their scoring depth. Odds are that they'll retain him and try to re-sign him in the offseason.
The Rumor: Anton Volchenkov to the Montreal Canadiens for Daniel Briere.
Analysis: NJ.com's Randy Miller cited Briere's unhappiness earlier this month over being a healthy scratch. He feels Briere could address the Devils' scoring needs. Offering defenseman Anton Volchenkov ($4.25 million annual cap hit) to the Habs would offset the cost of Briere's $4 million-per-season contract. Moving to New Jersey would also put Briere closer to his two sons.
Prediction: The Canadiens don't need Volchenkov. Briere is now seeing more playing time, and Habs management has no intention of moving him.
The Rumor: Andy MacDonald to the Washington Capitals for Michal Neuvirth.
Analysis: CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley notes the N.Y. Islanders need a goaltender while the Capitals are in need of blue-line depth. He notes the Isles could afford Neuvirth's $2.5 million annual salary. MacDonald is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season's end. He's earning $550,000 this season, which would make him an affordable acquisition for the Capitals.
Prediction: Despite uncertainty over MacDonald's future plans, they won't move him as long as they remain in playoff contention.
The Rumor: Dan Girardi to the Anaheim Ducks.
Analysis: ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Ducks seek a veteran defenseman with a right-handed shot. Girardi is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer and could prove expensive for the Rangers to re-sign. Moving him now, however, would be a serious blow to their playoff hopes. Despite the risk of losing him for nothing to free agency in July, the Rangers won't trade Girardi while they're in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Prediction: The Ducks must look elsewhere for a right-handed shot for their blue line. Girardi's staying put.
The Rumor: Marc Methot to the New York Rangers for Michael Del Zotto.
Analysis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported in late December that the Senators were interested in Del Zotto. The Rangers' asking price is a top-four defenseman. They reportedly wanted Methot, whom Senators GM Bryan Murray isn't willing to move. The Senators have since filled their need for a puck-moving defenseman with rookie Cody Ceci. Murray's focus has shifted to acquiring a scoring winger.
Prediction: The Rangers must look elsewhere for a trade partner willing to pay for Del Zotto.
The Rumor: Andrej Meszaros to the Boston Bruins.
Analysis: CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty recently listed Meszaros among possible trade targets for the Bruins should they should seek a replacement for the sidelined Dennis Seidenberg. Meszaros is only 28 and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. His struggles earlier this season made him the subject of trade speculation. In recent weeks, however, his performance has improved, which could make the Flyers reluctant to move him
Prediction: Unless the Flyers fall out of contention by the trade deadline, Meszaros will probably finish the season in Philadelphia.
The Rumor: The Coyotes could target Buffalo Sabres winger Matt Moulson.
Analysis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch recently reported that the Coyotes are seeking forward depth and have an eye on Moulson. The Sabres could move the 30-year-old winger, who's a free agent at season's end, if he's still unsigned by the March trade deadline. The Coyotes are in the midst of a serious slump and have fallen out of playoff contention. They could use Moulson to bolster their scoring punch at left wing. The Sabres could seek a return of draft picks and prospects.
Prediction: Their current slump could force them to chase a scoring left winger like Moulson before the Olympic break.
The Rumor: Simon Despres could be dealt for a scoring winger.
Analysis: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi speculates Despres could be used as trade bait for a scorer or third-line depth. The 22-year-old is projected as a good all-round defenseman. He has struggled to nail down a regular roster spot and was recently demoted to the minors. With so many promising blueliners in the Penguins' system, Despres could become the odd man out.
Prediction: If Despres has a future in the NHL, it's probably not with Pittsburgh. Expect him to be moved, separately or in a package deal, by the trade deadline.
The Rumor: The New York Rangers have interest in defenseman Dan Boyle.
Analysis: Boyle's an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Sharks will listen to offers for the veteran blueliner and that the Rangers are interested. However, Garrioch also claims Boyle isn't expected to be moved, as Sharks management doesn't want to change the team's mix. Bit of a mixed message there.
Prediction: The Sharks and Boyle opened contract talks earlier this season. Even if he's unsigned by the trade deadline, the Sharks will keep him and worry about a new contract in the offseason.
The Rumor: Jaroslav Halak, a prospect and a young forward to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan Miller.
Analysis: Despite the Blues' strong performance this season, a number of pundits doubt they'll contend for the Stanley Cup with their current goalie tandem of Halak and Brian Elliott. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes the Blues could rectify this by acquiring Miller. He recommends offering up Halak, a prospect and a young forward. The rumored asking price for Miller is three top prospects, plus a first-round pick. They won't have interest in Halak.
Prediction: The Blues can't afford to take on Miller's remaining contract and won't pay the Sabres high asking price.
The Rumor: They could pursue Calgary's Mike Cammalleri, Columbus' Marian Gaborik or Montreal's David Desharnais.
Analysis: Shortly after superstar Steven Stamkos broke his leg in November, Sportsnet's Ryan Dixon listed Cammalleri, Gaborik and Desharnais as possible short-term replacements. However, the Lightning's strong play in Stamkos' absence means there's little reason to shop for scoring depth. Stamkos could return to action by early February.
Prediction: Should a need arise to bolster the Lightning's scoring depth near the March trade deadline, GM Steve Yzerman could keep an eye on Cammalleri or Gaborik. Stamkos' return, however, could be all they need.
The Rumor: Nazem Kadri could be traded for a center or scoring winger.
Analysis: The National Post's Michael Traikos reports GM Dave Nonis is willing to trade Kadri. He hastened to add there's a difference between being willing to trade and actually doing so. Nonis has previously stated if he were to trade the 23-year-old center, it would be for a blue-chip player of comparable age. There's also talk he'd want a center in return.
Prediction: The Leafs' recent improvement has quieted the Kadri rumor mill for now. Unless a rival club is willing to meet Nonis' asking price, Kadri will stay put.
The Rumor: The Canucks could ship a defenseman to the Colorado Avalanche for Ryan O'Reilly.
Analysis: When the Colorado Avalanche matched O'Reilly's offer sheet from the Calgary Flames last February 28, they were restricted from moving him for one calendar year. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun believes if the Avalanche decide to move O'Reilly before the trade deadline, the Canucks could pursue him. The Avs lack experienced blue-line depth, prompting LeBrun to suggest the Canucks could offer up a defenseman.
Prediction: The Canucks might have better luck prying pending free-agent Paul Stastny out of Colorado. The Avalanche won't trade the versatile O'Reilly.
The Rumor: Michal Neuvirth to the Florida Panthers.
Analysis: ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Panthers could have interest in Neuvirth, who recently requested a trade. Panthers netminders Tim Thomas and Scott Clemmensen are unrestricted free agents this summer. They'll need an experienced goalie to share the duties with Jacob Markstrom. With the Capitals' recent demotion of goalie Philipp Grubauer, Neuvirth could be off the trade block for now. LeBrun speculates this could be more of an offseason move for the Panthers.
Prediction: Depending on the Capitals' needs, Neuvirth could still be moved by the trade deadline. The Panthers could be among the suitors.
The Rumor: Dustin Byfuglien to the New York Rangers.
Analysis: During a recent live chat, ESPN's Katie Strang addressed a reader's question linking Byfuglien to the Rangers, noting he possesses the right-hand shot they need on their blue line. He's currently averaging $5.4 million per season, meaning the Blueshirts must shed some salary to acquire him. His defensive inconsistencies would drive Rangers' coach Alain Vigneault nuts. Trading for Byfuglien would cost more than the Rangers are willing to give.
Prediction: If the Jets move “Big Buff” before the trade deadline, it won't be to the Big Apple.