When the NHL Olympic roster freeze lifts on February 23, there will be a narrow 10-day window for general managers to address their needs leading up to the March 5 trade deadline.
Trade rumors involving several notable NHL stars will fly fast and furious during this period. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek and New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan are among the notable players who could be on the move by deadline day.
Fans and pundits will speculate over potential destinations for these stars. Most NHL trades, however, tend to catch everyone by surprise. It's possible some of these players could end up in deals no one expected to happen.
The following is a listing of eight trade possibilities that would shock the NHL this year, along with the plausibility of these deals and the chances they will take place.
Salary-cap figures provided by CapGeek unless otherwise noted.
The Deal: The Carolina Hurricanes trade goaltender Cam Ward to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Why It's Plausible: Raleigh News & Observer's Luke DeCock reports Anton Khudobin's strong play raises questions concerning Cam Ward's future with the Hurricanes. The Flames lack an experienced starting goaltender. The Hurricanes need a skilled puck-moving defenseman. Their contracts are reasonably comparable. Ward has two seasons left with an annual cap hit of $6.3 million, while Wideman has three years remaining with a cap hit of $5.25 million.
Chances It Will Happen: 30 percent. Both players must waive their respective no-trade clauses to allow the swap to happen. The Flames could balk at Ward's injury history. The Hurricanes could prefer a more affordable defenseman than Wideman.
The Deal: The New Jersey Devils trade winger Jaromir Jagr to the Los Angeles Kings for left wing Tyler Toffoli and a draft pick.
Why It's Plausible: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is willing to move Jagr. The Kings need an offensive boost but have limited cap space. Jagr, the Devils' leading scorer, could address those needs. He carries an affordable one-year contract and lacks a no-trade clause.
Chances It Will Happen: 40 percent. Given Jagr's age (42), the Kings could prefer younger options. If they get desperate, however, they could consider it. Lamoriello likely won't contemplate trading Jagr unless the Devils lose ground in the standings following the Olympic break. The Kings could be unwilling to part with Toffoli.
The Deal: The Columbus Blue Jackets trade right wing Marian Gaborik to the Montreal Canadiens for winger Daniel Briere.
Why It's plausible: The Canadiens need scoring punch. When healthy, Gaborik is a proven sniper. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reports there are no contract talks between Gaborik and the Blue Jackets. Briere has struggled in Montreal. Both players could benefit from a change of scenery.
Chances It Will Happen: 40 percent. Gaborik has yet to return from a broken collarbone. He and Briere must be willing to waive their respective no-trade clauses. Briere carries an annual cap hit of $4 million, which the Blue Jackets could be unwilling to pick up.
The Deal: The New Jersey Devils trade goaltender Martin Brodeur and right wing Steve Bernier to the St. Louis Blues for goaltender Brian Elliott and right wing Chris Stewart.
Why It's Plausible: The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports Brodeur could be mulling his options during the Olympic break. He could accept a trade to a Stanley Cup contender like the Blues. The Devils need a scoring winger. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon reports Stewart could be available. Elliott's an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Bernier would provide the Blues with additional checking-line depth.
Chances It Will Happen: 40 percent. It's questionable if the 41-year-old Brodeur can still carry a team deep in the postseason. However, he could be rejuvenated playing for a true Stanley Cup contender again. He would also be a more affordable playoff rental than Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
The Deal: The New York Islanders trade Thomas Vanek to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Patrick Wiercioch and a draft pick.
Why It's Plausible: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators seek a top-six forward. GM Bryan Murray has ownership's blessing to add salary if a deal makes sense. The Islanders could be desperate to get something of value for Vanek by the trade deadline. They could seek a replacement for defenseman Andrew MacDonald if they don't re-sign him.
Chances It Will Happen: 30 percent. The Los Angeles Kings or Pittsburgh Penguins could outbid the Senators. Vanek would address the Senators' offensive needs, but Garrioch reports they are interested in more affordable options like Buffalo's Matt Moulson or St. Louis' Chris Stewart.
The Deal: The New York Rangers trade Ryan Callahan to the Dallas Stars for right wing Alex Chiasson, a prospect and a first-round pick.
Why It's Plausible: The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports the Rangers aren't willing to re-sign Callahan to a seven-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $6.5 million. Chiasson has potential as a power forward. Callahan's leadership and two-way skills would make him a great fit with the rebuilding Stars.
Chances It Will Happen: 30 percent. The Stars would need assurances Callahan will re-sign with them after this season. They could also balk at his hefty salary demands. The Rangers could still retain him to bolster their playoff chances and try to re-sign him before July 1.
The Deal: The Buffalo Sabres trade goaltender Ryan Miller to the Washington Capitals for goalie Braden Holtby, winger Joel Ward and a draft pick.
Why It's plausible: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Capitals could be among the clubs with interest in Miller. Holtby could replace Miller as the Sabres' starter, while Ward could be a good addition to Buffalo's checking lines. Moving the pair could make it easier for the Capitals to absorb the remainder of Miller's $6.25 million salary.
Chances It Will Happen: 40 percent. There's no guarantee Miller will re-sign with the Capitals. He could also use his limited no-trade clause to block the deal. The Sabres might have to pick up part of Miller's salary to make this deal work for Washington. The Capitals could be reluctant to move Holtby or Ward.
The Deal: The Nashville Predators trade defenseman Shea Weber to the Edmonton Oilers for winger Jordan Eberle, center Sam Gagner and their 2014 first-round pick.
Why It's Plausible: The Predators have stockpiled promising young defensemen, giving them a reason to shed Weber's 14-year, $110 million contract. Weber lacks a no-trade clause. The Predators lack scoring depth. The Oilers need a top-two blueliner and have depth in young assets to tempt the Predators.
Chances It Will Happen: 40 percent. The Philadelphia Flyers, who tried to sign away Weber in 2012, could make a pitch. The Oilers could be unwilling to part with Eberle. Such a blockbuster move is unlikely to happen at the trade deadline.