Rumors always run rampant leading up to the NHL trade deadline, but it is difficult to remember a time when so many marquee players have found themselves on the block.
With so many teams battling for playoff spots under the NHL's new format, the teams that are out of contention are actually in a very advantageous position. There are tons of potential suitors looking to make improvements ahead of the playoffs, and there are definitely pieces to be had.
With draft picks and prospects serving as the primary currency, at least a few star players figure to be sold to the highest bidder. Here is the latest buzz surrounding a few potential trade chips that could be sporting new colors in the near future.
Ryan Miller is the Buffalo Sabres' all-time leader among goalies in games played (540) and wins (284), but his time wearing blue and gold could be approaching a conclusion. Miller is due to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, so the Sabres are faced with the decision of trading him, re-signing him or allowing him to walk away with nothing to show for it.
All three options remain on the table, but a trade is looking more and more likely. According to the Associated Press, an anonymous source revealed that Sabres general manager Tim Murray is doing everything he can to "test the waters" with regard to a trade.
Murray hasn't tried to hide the fact that trading Miller is the ideal scenario either. Per TSN, Murray admitted that between two and 10 teams had expressed interest in the 33-year-old netminder.
"I don't think signing here is his first choice at his age, where we're at," Murray said. "We're the 30th-place team. It's not the route we're looking at right now. The route we're looking at is to get value for him."
Even Miller seems to have accepted his fate, according to NHL.com.
I'm answering these questions because it seems likely, given my status at the end of the year, they're likely to trade me. And that's where we're at ... If we had more time to see what moves they made before the trade deadline, what's a logical business move, I could take all summer and we could see where everything shakes out, but it seems like it's a risky proposal for both sides. So right now, it's a business decision, it's not really a personal thing, see where it goes.
All parties involved appear to be on the same page, but the Sabres must also find a willing trade partner. The goalie market has cooled in recent years as less-heralded backstops have had playoff success, but a guy like Miller could be a huge addition to a contending squad with middling play in net.
He boasts an excellent .923 save percentage, and he would benefit greatly from a better supporting cast around him. Miller would remain a Sabre for life in a perfect world, but with Buffalo clearly in a rebuild mode, a deal has to happen.
The Sabres have a tough decision on their hands when it comes to Miller, but they already made another earlier in the season when they sent winger Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and a first-round pick. Vanek, who is sixth on the Sabres' all-time scoring list at age 30, has been productive on the Isles with 40 points in 45 games.
Despite that, the Isles have struggled mightily and are among the NHL's worst teams. New York rolled the dice by trading for an upcoming free agent like Vanek, and it backfired. With that said, the Islanders can still recoup some of their losses by dealing him before the deadline.
John Tavares is out for the season with a knee injury, so it is difficult to imagine the Islanders making a comeback this season. Also, Vanek has rejected extension offers from the Isles, and has every intention of testing the open market, per NHL.com.
It's just me being a little selfish, I guess, and wanting to get to July 1 and seeing what's out there. It has nothing to do with this team and where we are in the standings. I think this team has a tremendous upside. Is it the right move? I don't know. But it's something me and my family want to explore one time and see how it goes.
Vanek has elite skill and he has been a productive player in the league for a long time. Because of that, it should come as no surprise that teams are lining up to make a run at the Austrian star, according to Daniel Friedman of WFAN:
TSN reporting that "up to six teams" have expressed interest in Thomas Vanek.— Daniel Friedman (@DFriedmanOnNYI) February 26, 2014
At the same time, the Islanders are being selective. According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that New York has already turned down a serious offer. The market for Vanek figures to grow as the deadline gets closer, so the Islanders shouldn't have much trouble moving him.
Like the Sabres, the Isles can't afford to let a great asset walk away without having something to show for it.
Which player is most likely to get traded prior to the deadline?
The Calgary Flames are going nowhere fast, so it's time for them to make some decisions regarding players set to hit free agency. Forward Mike Cammalleri scored 82 points for the Flames in 2008-09, and while he hasn't topped 50 points in a season since then, he is a fan favorite and a potentially dynamic player when he gets on a roll.
Cammalleri has struggled this season to the tune of 21 points in 42 games with an awful minus-24 rating. Even so, Calgary Flames general manager Brian Burke is still considering a contract extension, although the odds are certainly long, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
If no agreement can be reached on that front, then several teams could potentially make a run at Cammalleri on the trade market. Per TheFourthPeriod.com, the New Jersey Devils were at the forefront earlier in the month as they searched for a scorer to go along with the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias.
It remains to be seen if they are still in pursuit of Cammalleri, but there is bound to be some interest. David Pagnotta of TheFourthPeriod.com has called the possibility of Cammalleri moving "likely:"
Not sure how it'll end, but in addition to Cammalleri likely being moved, strong possibility the Flames also deal Stempniak by Mar 5.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 27, 2014
Things haven't worked out for Cammalleri in Calgary lately, but if he lands with a team that puts some talent around him, then perhaps the Cammalleri of old will make his presence felt.
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