The clock is ticking for the 2014 NHL trade deadline. March 5 will roll around in the blink of an eye.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics out of the way, teams can return their focus back to whatever moves they've been pursuing behind the scenes. It's a good thing, too, as not a day can be wasted between now and Wednesday.
There's been a flurry of activity in the rumor mill, and these three players have found themselves front and center.
No player is more coveted on the trade market than Thomas Vanek. He's amassed a total of 49 points this season (19 goals, 30 assists). Although the New York Islanders won't be able to recoup the investment they made in Vanek in the trade with the Buffalo Sabres, they can still manage a healthy haul.
According to Newsday's Arthur Staple, Islanders general manager Garth Snow will wait until the last minute to decide what he's doing with Vanek and Andrew MacDonald, who could also move before the trade deadline:
My indications are that, barring a “can’t refuse” offer from anyone in the next few days, Snow will take this as close to the 3 p.m. deadline on March 5 as possible to entice better offers for both Vanek and MacDonald.
Some might think that strategy could backfire. There’s the possibility that either player could get hurt, with the Isles playing three games in the next four days, or that a prospective buyer could get tired of waiting and jump at another player available.
You can see where Snow's coming from. He has the best offensive player on the trade market. Even with Vanek's impending free agency, he'll still demand a lot of interest. Ideally, you want to see how everything plays out before making a final decision.
Snow wouldn't want to pull the trigger on a deal, only to realize later that he could've held out for something better.
Of course, it could all blow up in Snow's face, subsequently forcing his hand.
That's the risk he's running.
Martin St. Louis
Staple also indicated that Martin St. Louis could be pushing for a move away from the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Not necessarily Islanders-related, but I’ve now heard from three different NHL people that Martin St. Louis did indeed request a trade last month. He has a full no-move clause, so he could pick his destination. That would seem to be the Rangers. St. Louis has an offseason home in Greenwich, Conn.
TSN's Darren Dreger confirmed that the New York Rangers would be the only team in the St. Louis sweepstakes should he be on the move:
Teams may continue to call TBay on St Louis, but, as of now, Lightning are telling teams St Louis is locked on the New York Rangers. #tsn— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 27, 2014
Seeing the 38-year-old in a uniform other than Tampa Bay's would be an odd sight. He's spent the last 13 seasons with the Lightning, helping the franchise win the Stanley Cup in 2004, the same season in which St. Louis won the Hart Memorial Trophy.
St. Louis's best days are behind him. Yet, he's leading the Lightning with 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists). He could prove an invaluable asset to a team trying to make a run in the playoffs.
With Ryan Kesler, you get the whole trade rumor/agent gamut.
First, Louis Jean of TVA in Canada reported that the Vancouver Canucks center had put in a trade request and would like to move before the deadline. This started when the puck dropped on the new season:
Sources say Ryan Kesler requested a trade some time ago & wants out of Vcr. Told #Canucks don't want to trade him but may not have a choice.— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) February 27, 2014
Adrian Dater of The Denver Post, and a contributor for Bleacher Report, reported that Kesler's agent quickly moved to deny that his client had requested a trade:
Ryan Kesler has NOT requested a trade, his agent Kurt Overhardt tells me. Says reports saying so are "BS"— Adrian Dater (@adater) February 27, 2014
So now, it's become a he-said, he-said situation to a certain extent. It's likely that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps, Kesler wants out of Vancouver to some degree but not enough to push through a trade now.
There's no question that if opposing teams were to smell blood in the water, a massive feeding frenzy would commence.