With the NHL's March 5 trade deadline fast approaching, there is growing anticipation over possible moves leading up to the deadline. Speculation is also rampant over which players could be on the trade block.
Teams that stand no chance of reaching the playoffs this season will attempt to shed salary and rebuild. Stanley Cup contenders will look for a key player to improve their Cup chances. Clubs hoping to hang onto a playoff berth and those jockeying for contention could also be active by deadline day.
Some teams will try to improve their goaltending. Some seek either a puck-moving defenseman or a physical blueliner. There will be teams trying to upgrade their offense. Others will search of experienced checking depth.
Here's a look at the 30 NHL teams and the one player each should target before the trade deadline.
Player they should target: Dan Girardi.
Why they need him: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports the Ducks seek a right-handed defenseman and Girardi is atop their wish list. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports Girardi's contract talks are at an impasse. The Rangers could trade him rather than lose him to free agency in July.
What he'll cost: The Rangers could seek a first-round pick as part of the return. The Ducks have two in this year's draft, having received the Ottawa Senators' pick in last summer's Bobby Ryan trade. The Rangers might need depth at forward if they trade Ryan Callahan. Winger Emerson Etem could interest them.
Player they should target: Nick Schultz.
Why they need him: Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli recently told the Boston Herald (via The Score) he's seeking defensive depth. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Schultz is among several pending free agents the Oilers could move before the deadline. Though not a dominant physical defenseman, Schultz plays a solid game in his own zone. He can log upwards of 20 minutes of ice time per game.
What he'll cost: The Oilers might prefer one of the Bruins' young defensemen for Schultz. Chiarelli won't part with them for a rental player. Schultz could cost the Bruins a third-round draft pick or a prospect.
Player they should target: Viktor Fasth.
Why they need him: They'll need a solid backup for goalie Jhonas Enroth if starter Ryan Miller is moved by the trade deadline. The Ducks are deep between the pipes and can afford to move Fasth, who has been sidelined for much of this season by injury. He was impressive last season backing up Jonas Hiller, and his presence could boost Enroth's performance. Fasth is also under contract through next season at a cap hit of $2.9 million.
What he'll cost: The asking price should be affordable, perhaps a third-round draft pick or a prospect.
Player they should target: Cam Ward.
Why they need him: The Flames lack experienced NHL goaltending. ESPN.com's Craig Custance reports (Insider subscription required) teams could be interested in Ward if he agrees to waives his no-trade clause and the Hurricanes pick up part of his $6.25 million annual cap hit. That could prove enticing to the Flames, though Ward's injury history would be a concern.
What he'll cost: It won't be easy to land him, but it's at least worth investigating. The Hurricanes need skilled blue-line depth. Dennis Wideman could be available if he's willing to waive his no-movement clause. The Hurricanes might balk at his lengthy and expensive contract.
Player they should target: Andrew MacDonald.
Why they need him: Adding John-Michael Liles failed to significantly boost their blue-line production. MacDonald is a good puck-moving defenseman who logs big minutes and could boost their playoff hopes. The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports MacDonald's salary demands are too expensive for the Islanders. They will mostly likely try to move him at the deadline.
What he'll cost: The Islanders could seek a first-round pick but might settle for a decent roster player. They need depth throughout their lineup. The Hurricanes could offer up winger Tuomo Ruutu or goaltender Justin Peters.
Player they should target: Vernon Fiddler.
Why they need him: The Blackhawks need a second-line center. They recently acquired Peter Regin, but it's doubtful he can adequately fill that need. Earlier this season, CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reported Fiddler requested a trade but later reconsidered. If the Stars fall out of contention by the trade deadline, they could try to move Fiddler. Given the Blackhawks' limited cap space, Fiddler could be an affordable rental player.
What he'll cost: A second- or third-round draft pick. Fiddler's earning $1.85 million this season. The Blackhawks could also request the Stars pick up part of his remaining salary.
Player they should target: Tom Gilbert.
Why they need him: The Avalanche need experienced depth on their defense. Gilbert is a good puck-moving blueliner who could be an affordable short-term acquisition. Sun-Sentinel.com's Harvey Fialkov reports the Panthers hope to re-sign Gilbert. If unable to get him under contract by the trade deadline, they could move him.
What he'll cost: The rebuilding Panthers could seek a draft pick, prospect or a young player. They could have interest in winger Jamie McGinn. It's doubtful the Avalanche would give up McGinn for a rental player.
Player they should target: Ryan Callahan.
Why they need him: If they trade Marian Gaborik, they'll need depth on right wing. Callahan is a strong two-way player who could help them clinch a playoff spot. The two clubs have a recent trade history. The Columbus Dispatch's Michael Arace reports Blue Jackets president John Davidson said his club wasn't interested in rental players. However, the New York Post's Larry Brooks believes it's not unrealistic for Callahan to join the Jackets.
What he'll cost: The Rangers' asking price could be a first-round draft pick along with either a prospect or a young forward. It could be worthwhile if the Blue Jackets can re-sign him.
Player they should target: Marian Gaborik.
Why they need him: They need scoring depth beyond Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Without it, they risk falling out of playoff contention. Gaborik could address this problem. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline recently reported there was no contract talks between Gaborik and the Blue Jackets.
What he'll cost: The Blue Jackets could seek draft picks and prospects. The Stars could offer up Vernon Fiddler or Erik Cole, though the latter would have to waive his no-trade clause.
Player they should target: David Legwand.
Why they need him: They're banged-up at center. Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery) could miss the remainder of the season. Pavel Datsyuk has also been hampered by injuries. Stephen Weiss is just returning from sports-hernia surgery. ESPN.com's Tim Kavanagh reports (Insider subscription required) Legwand, who has a no-movement clause, could prefer remaining in the Midwest. That could work in the Wings' favor.
What he'll cost: The Predators lack scoring depth and could target one of the Wings' promising young forwards. The Wings will likely counter with a draft pick and/or a prospect. The Wings could also request the Predators pick up part of Legwand's remaining salary.
Player they should target: Shea Weber.
Why they need him: The Oilers lack a true top-two defenseman to anchor their blue line and provide leadership. They possess depth in young forwards to tempt the Predators, who lack scoring depth. Players like Weber are rarely moved at the trade deadline. It couldn't hurt to inquire about his trade status now.
What he'll cost: If the Predators are willing to move Weber, the asking price will be expensive. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson speculates it could cost Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, plus the Oilers' first-round pick in this year's draft, as part of the return.
Player they should target: Michal Neuvirth.
Why they need him: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports the Panthers could have interest in Neuvirth. He requested a trade earlier this season and needs a fresh start elsewhere. He's also signed through next season at a cap hit of $2.5 million. Sun-Sentinel.com's Harvey Fialkov reports the Panthers hope to re-sign Tim Thomas. Backup Scott Clemmensen is also eligible for unrestricted free agency. Neuvirth could be a good replacement.
What he'll cost: The Capitals need affordable blue-line depth. They could have interest in Tom Gilbert or Mike Weaver.
Player they should target: Thomas Vanek.
Why they need him: The Kings' lack of offense has put them in danger of falling out of playoff contention. ESPN.com's Tim Kavanagh reports they have interest in Vanek, who would provide a much-needed boost on left wing. He would be an expensive rental for the Kings but worthwhile if he bolsters their scoring punch.
What he'll cost: The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports the Islanders' asking price is a first-round draft pick, a second-round pick and a prospect. The Kings could also offer up a forward like Trevor Lewis or Kyle Clifford.
Player they should target: Martin Brodeur.
Why they need him: Starting goalie Josh Harding is still battling multiple sclerosis symptoms, and backup Niklas Backstrom is in decline. Call-up goalie Darcy Kuemper has played well but is inexperienced. Star-Tribune.com's Michael Russo suggests Brodeur would be a more affordable option than Buffalo's Ryan Miller. His experience and leadership could help the Wild clinch a playoff berth.
What he'll cost: The Devils lack scoring depth and could seek a young roster forward or prospect in return. Brodeur must also waive his no-trade clause.
Player they should target: Steve Ott.
Why they need him: The Canadiens could use more grit on their forward lines. Ott is a versatile, physical player who leads by example. He could be an affordable playoff rental for the Canadiens. The Buffalo News' John Vogl reports Ott wants to remain a Sabre, but he's yet to have contract talks with management.
What he'll cost: The Sabres are rebuilding and could seek a draft pick as well as a young roster player or a prospect.
Player they should target: Sam Gagner.
Why they need him: The Predators lack scoring punch and could lose depth at center this summer if David Legwand departs via free agency. SI.com's Allan Muir reports they could have interest in Gagner. He's signed through 2015-16, and the Predators could afford to take on his annual $4.8 million cap hit.
What he'll cost: The Oilers need defensive depth. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples doubts they'll be interested in Ryan Ellis or a prospect like Jonathan Ismael-Daiby. The Oilers could use a superstar defenseman like Shea Weber, but it'll take a lot more than Gagner to get him.
Player they should target: Mike Cammalleri.
Why they need him: The Devils lack scoring depth. Failing to address this weakness could cripple their playoff chances. CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reports hearing the Devils have interest in Cammalleri. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer and could test the market.
What he'll cost: The Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti reports the rebuilding Flames are looking for prospects and/or draft picks. The Devils lack picks in the first and fourth rounds of this year's draft. The Flames could ask for promising D-men Eric Gelinas or Adam Larsson.
Player they should target: Craig Anderson.
Why they need him: The Islanders lack depth throughout their lineup, but goaltending is their most pressing need. If the Senators fail to gain ground in the standings by the trade deadline, they could go from buyers to sellers. Anderson has only one year left on his contract. Backup Robin Lehner is poised to take over as the Senators starter.
What he'll cost: The Senators could use a top-six winger. The Islanders don't have much to offer up in that regard. If the Senators' goal is to shed salary, the Isles could offer a draft pick or prospect.
Player they should target: Jamie McGinn.
Why they need him: If the Rangers trade Ryan Callahan, they could need depth at forward. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports sources told him the Rangers have interest in the 25-year-old McGinn. Though he's a streaky scorer, he's a hard-working versatile winger.
What he'll cost: The Avalanche could use experienced depth on their blue line. Brooks also reports the Rangers are prepared to trade Dan Girardi rather than lose him for nothing to free agency. They could dangle Girardi for McGinn, plus a first-round pick or top prospect.
Player they should target: Matt Moulson.
Why they need him: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Bryan Murray is in the market for a top-six winger. Garrioch also claims they have interest in Moulson, who would be an affordable rental player. It'll also give them the opportunity to re-sign Moulson if he meshes well in their lineup.
What he'll cost: Murray's nephew and former assistant GM Tim Murray is the Sabres new general manager. The Senators have depth in promising young defensemen and centers, which could prove enticing to the Sabres.
Player they should target: Keith Yandle.
Why they need him: They need an impact defenseman. CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio reports the Flyers turned down an offer of Yandle for winger James van Riemsdyk, shipping the latter instead to Toronto for Luke Schenn. The emergence of Oliver Ekman-Larsson could make Yandle expendable. He would also be a more affordable target than Nashville's Shea Weber.
What he'll cost: The Coyotes need offensive depth, especially on the wing. It could cost the Flyers winger Jakub Voracek ($4.25 million per season) to free up cap space for Yandle's $5.25 million annual cap hit.
Player they should target: Chris Stewart.
Why they need him: The Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reports Coyotes GM Don Maloney wants to add a forward. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon reports Stewart's name is in the rumor mill. He's signed through 2014-15 at a cap hit of $4.25 million. Adding Stewart could not only bolster the Coyotes' playoff hopes but also serve as insurance should Radim Vrbata depart via free agency in July.
What he'll cost: The Blues could try to shed salary in order to add Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. The Coyotes could land Stewart without giving up a roster player, but they must be willing to add him to their payroll.
Player they should target: Ales Hemsky.
Why they need him: The Penguins need a rental player to replace injured winger Pascal Dupuis. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports they could have interest in Hemsky. His performance at the Sochi Olympics with the Czech Republic (three goals, four points) proves he can still be productive with skilled linemates.
What he'll cost: The Penguins have limited cap space, but the Oilers could pick up the remainder of Hemsky's salary to make a deal work. The Oilers need blue-line depth and could seek a young defenseman like Simon Despres in return.
Player they should target: Ray Whitney.
Why they need him: The Sharks could use some depth at left wing. If the Dallas Stars drop out of playoff contention, they could try to move Whitney. He might be willing to accept returning to the team where he began his NHL career. CSN Bay Area.com's Kevin Kurz believes Whitney could be an affordable rental player for the Sharks.
What he'll cost: Given Whitney's age (41), he could cost the Sharks, at most, a third-round draft pick. They could also request the Stars pick up part of his remaining salary.
Player they should target: Ryan Miller.
Why they need him: Questions linger about the ability of Blues goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to carry their club to the Stanley Cup. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues have interest in Miller but doesn't know if they can put together an offer to interest the Sabres.
What he'll cost: The Blues must create cap space to make room for Miller. The Sabres could seek a return of a first-round pick and one or two good young players. Miller would be an expensive acquisition for the Blues, but he would improve their chances of winning the Cup.
Player they should target: Derek Morris.
Why they need him: The Lightning could use another skilled top-four defenseman. Morris is a skilled veteran blueliner. He's also an unrestricted free agent at season's end. He would be an affordable rental player for the Lightning. The Coyotes could move him if they fall out of playoff contention by the deadline.
What he'll cost: The usual asking price for a playoff rental player: a draft pick, prospect or a young player. Morris must be willing to waive his partial no-trade clause to accept a move.
Player they should target: Mark Stuart.
Why they need him: The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger reports Leafs GM Dave Nonis claims he's not planning any major deadline moves. His Leafs must reduce their league-leading shots-against numbers. Acquiring an experienced defensive blueliner like Stuart would help. He's also eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. The Winnipeg Jets could shop him if they fall out of playoff contention by deadline day.
What he'll cost: The Jets could accept a third-round draft pick or prospect. The Leafs could also offer up a lower-salaried player who no longer fits within their system.
Player they should target: Ryan O'Reilly.
Why they need him: The Canucks were struggling to score leading up to the trade deadline. They've been in need of a top-six winger for some time. O'Reilly is a versatile young forward who could address that issue. The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reports it could cost the Avalanche $6.5 million just to qualify for his rights this summer.
What he'll cost: Dater also reported the Avalanche would prefer to deal with O'Reilly's contract status in the offseason. Still, there's no harm in the Canucks asking about his trade status. The Avalanche need experienced depth on their defense. The Canucks could offer up Alexander Edler if he's willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Player they should target: Chris Phillips.
Why they need him: They need a skilled stay-at-home blueliner. Phillips would provide experience and leadership. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The Senators could move him by the deadline if they fall further out of playoff contention.
What he'll cost: The Senators could seek a draft pick or prospect. The Capitals must either free up cap space or request the Senators pick up part of his remaining salary. Phillips has a partial no-trade clause and must agree to the trade.
Player they should target: Henrik Tallinder.
Why they need him: Having moved Dustin Byfuglien to the wing, the Jets need experienced depth on their blue line. The Associated Press (via Sportsnet) reports Tallinder is among several pending free agents the Sabres could try to move by the deadline. Tallinder's experience and defensive skills could make him an affordable pickup for the Jets.
What he'll cost: The Jets have two picks in the fourth round of this year's draft. They could offer up one of them for Tallinder.