The NHL roster freeze that was put into effect while the Olympics took place has been lifted. In other words, let the free-for-all on the trade market before the March 5 deadline begin!
With many folks still hockey crazed after a great Olympic tournament, all eyes will now turn to the trade market, as contenders will look to bolster their rosters and the bottom-feeders look to sell off their stars to the highest bidder.
Let's take a look at the latest NHL buzz.
Martin St. Louis, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi
Could Martin St. Louis be angling for a trade away from the Tampa Bay Lightning? He certainly was thought to want out earlier this month, according to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet:
St.Louis does have a full no move expiring 2014-15. As reported by @NYP_Brooksie Yzerman not interested in renting a top player without term— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) February 24, 2014
Larry Brooks of the New York Post adds to that report:
Blueshirts’ general manager Glen Sather has inquired about a potential swap of team captains in which pending free agent Ryan Callahan would go to the Lightning in exchange for St. Louis, but (Lightning general manager Steve) Yzerman’s absolute lack of interest in dealing his leading scorer in exchange for a rental property has been made clear to the Rangers.
The Rangers have made no progress whatsoever in bridging the gap regarding a contract extension with Callahan, who is due in New York on Monday on his return trip from Sochi. His asking price of seven years at approximately $6.75 million per year is believed well beyond what the Lightning would be willing to pay to keep him from hitting the open market.
Sather, who has thus far been willing to go five years for approximately $6 million per (perhaps a tad more) to keep Callahan in New York, appears committed to dealing the 28-year-old, two-time USA Olympian to the highest bidder rather than allowing him to escape scot-free on July 1.
According to Brooks, Dan Girardi could also be put on the trading block if he doesn't agree to a contract extension. Expect the Rangers to be quite busy ahead of the trade deadline.
As for St. Louis' situation, you'd have to imagine the Lightning don't want to lose him. He's scored 25 goals and has totaled 56 points so far this season and is showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 38.
The Lightning are currently second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference, so shaking up the team by moving a player as important as St. Louis would be risky and likely a very unpopular move with the fans.
As of now, it still seems unlikely to happen. But stay tuned.
Michael Cammalleri, Jaromir Jagr and the New Jersey Devils
According to Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun, the New Jersey Devils could either be buyers or sellers at this deadline:
Despite their scoring struggles, the Devils currently sit three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is rumoured to have interest in (Mike) Cammalleri, but there is also talk he might make ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr available at the trade deadline, so the next few games could be the determining factor in whether this squad is buying or selling. The Devils don’t have a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and need to re-stock their farm system, so they’ll have to decide if they’re willing to surrender any assets for a playoff push.
Gilbertson speculates that the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins could also potentially make a push for Cammalleri, so the Calgary Flames should have some options if they decide to make him available.
Gilbertson also suggests the Flames could decide to sign him to a contract extension.
The 31-year-old has scored 13 goals and added eight assists for the Flames this season, so he would be a nice complementary piece for a contender down the stretch. He's a safe bet to reach 20 goals this season, so expect teams to inquire about Cammalleri right up until the deadline.
Odds and Ends
Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post thinks it is "inevitable" that New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow will trade Thomas Vanek before the deadline and is looking for a "first-round pick, in addition to a second-rounder or a high-level prospect."
To his credit, Vanek is taking the rumors in stride, telling Cyrgalis, "It’s part of the business. I’ve been through it once now, and whatever happens, happens. I’m happy to be back here today to see the guys and practice and get ready for Thursday.”
According to that report, Snow could also look to move defenseman Andrew MacDonald.
Will the Philadelphia Flyers—currently third in the Metropolitan Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference—be major buyers at the trade deadline? According to Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, the answer is yes. Well, sort of...
The Flyers are almost always buyers, and last season's debacle makes a playoff berth this year all the more important. Don't expect them to stay too quiet before the deadline.
According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "The Penguins are believed to have at least some interest in a first-line right winger to fill in for Pascal Dupuis, a bottom-six winger with some grit and an experienced defenseman to enhance their toughness and depth."
Don't be surprised if the Penguins go shopping for a few rentals as they look to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Only the Anaheim Ducks (87), St. Louis Blues (84) and Chicago Blackhawks (84) have more points than the Penguins (83) this season.