With the final week before the Olympic trade freeze quickly approaching, trade rumors are heating up around the NHL in anticipation of a flurry of early-February activity.
The Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens have been generating the most buzz early this week, with negotiations between the two contenders reportedly reaching serious status.
Meanwhile, a plethora of Metropolitan Division clubs—where five points currently separate second and seventh place—are looking to get a jump on the competition with a trade.
A comprehensive compilation and breakdown of the biggest, hottest NHL trade rumors lies below.
Avalanche, Canadiens Naming Names
A concrete one-for-one swap seems to have been exchanged between the Avs and Habs on Monday, but—despite conflicting reasons for its lack of fruition—the trade did not go through.
Per TVA Sports reporter Louis Jean via Twitter:
However, Francois Gagnon of RDS claimed that Colorado had, in fact, been the one to shoot down the proposal.
Rene Bourque, 32, has largely been a disappointment in Montreal after some productive seasons earlier in his career in Calgary. He's tallied just 19 goals in three seasons since joining the Habs in 2011, including seven (and one mere assist) in 39 games this campaign.
P-A Parenteau, 30, has been a much steadier performer over the past four seasons; he has nine goals and 25 points in 41 games in 2013-14. While he'd surely enjoy a return to his childhood province, his value seems to significantly exceed Bourque's.
It doesn't seem likely that the two franchises are done talking after this one rejection, however. The negotiations seem to fit along this suggestive tweet from The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta:
Things can obviously change, but sure sounds like the Canadiens are onto something soon. They've been looking for a winger to add to top-6.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) January 27, 2014
Bruins Still Seeking Defensive Reinforcement
Despite the campaign-ending injury suffered by top-pairing defenseman Dennis Seidenberg late last month, the Boston Bruins continue to win on the ice: They're 7-4-1 since and continue to hold the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Nonetheless, a veteran rearguard to ease the ice time of young Matt Bartkowski would still be a nice tweak entering the season's final third.
Writes Joe Haggerty of Comcast SportsNet New England:
Could the Oilers have been scouting the Bruins on Saturday? It’s possible.Andy Devlin/Getty Images
It would seem that Edmonton's 31-year-old Nick Schultz most closely fits the profile of what Boston is looking for: a veteran, stay-at-home, left-shooting defenseman that blocks a lot of shots... The Bruins aren’t looking to take on players with term on their contract beyond this year, and Schultz certainly fits that criterion.
Although Schultz's advanced stats (-12.36 Corsi, -3.4 percent zone start differential) and mere three points don't stand up to the standard set by his 98 blocked shots (21st in the league), a player with his level of experience (863 career appearances) could intrigue the Bruins.
Flyers Dissatisfied with Trade Options
Like the aforementioned Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers—seeking to end a four-game losing streak—are also hoping to add a strong new defenseman to their lineup.
The list of blueliners on the trade block around North American is rather mediocre, however, leaving Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren stuck in a difficult position. According to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News:
The one piece the Flyers so desperately need - a legitimate, No. 1 defenseman - is unlikely to be readily available at the deadline... According to league sources, the defensemen available right now are such names as Florida's Mike Weaver or Colorado's Ryan Wilson. They are more like rental stopgaps, not contender gap closers.
The Flyers are tied for 21st in overall defense and their ice-time leader, Braydon Coburn, has just 10 points and a minus-six rating in 53 appearances.
Holmgren might need to make another bold move—something he's hardly been afraid to do in the past—to solve the Flyers' back-end issue in the near future.
Rangers Shopping Callahan, Girardi
As the Rangers fight to stay ahead of the playoff bubble, the weight of a free agent-laden offseason lies on the horizon.
GM Glen Sather is reportedly hoping to get a hold on the situation now.
On Tuesday's Insider Trading on TSN, Darren Dreger stated that "Sather has reached out to a number of general managers, said he is gauging trade interest on [Ryan] Callahan."
Bob McKenzie added that "if the New York Rangers do not sign Callahan and/or [Dan] Girardi by the trade deadline, they are determined to trade one or both of them."
Both Callahan, a 28-year-old winger, and Girardi, a 29-year-old defenseman, are among the Blueshirts' 14 pending free agents this coming summer. Callahan has registered nine goals and 20 points in 37 games in 2013-14; Girardi has 15 points and leads the Rangers in both hits (128) and blocked shots (98) in 54 games.
Both would garner fantastic return on the trade market.
Penguins Hoping for Moulson
When the Buffalo Sabres traded longtime star Thomas Vanek for Matt Moulson and two draft picks last October, it was expected that Moulson soon be on the move again as the Sabres continued their massive rebuilding.
Three months later, Moulson remains in Buffalo, having tallied 21 points in 38 games since the move. However, the Sabres remain firmly lodged in the East's cellar regardless, and the 30-year-old's name has resurfaced on the market.
Pittsburgh Penguins insider William DePaoli reports Pens coach Dan Bylsma's interest in Moulson:
It was clear today Bylsma would certainly endorse addition of Matt Moulson. Pens brass like him but anticipate bidding war for his services— William DePaoli (@TIOPS_DePaoli) January 27, 2014
Pittsburgh boasts the NHL's fourth-ranked offense but seems to make a significant trade deadline deal every spring. Their connections with Buffalo could be interesting to follow as the Olympics approach.
Tuomo Ruutu Remains Available
Two hip surgeries in the 2013 calendar year have slowed down Tuomo Ruutu considerably.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported earlier in January that Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford had sent a league-wide email shopping Ruutu and others, with Darren Dreger adding that Rutherford is "going to start pushing that trade now." He's clearly fed up with Ruutu's $4.75 million cap hit.
The 'Canes have won five of six games since that date as part of a 10-3-0 run, quieting rumblings tremendously, but Ruutu has just two points in that six-game span and 14 in 47 on the year. His minus-17 rating isn't helping the cause, either.
The 30-year-old Finn, who will join his country in the Olympics, is one of the league's leading hitters over the past half-decade, though, and should warrant a bit of interest.