We've only just begun.
The megadeal that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis Friday set the wheels in motion, and as the March 5 trade deadline approaches, speculation across the NHL is steadily increasing.
Teams such as the Buffalo Sabres, which aren't done stockpiling assets even after shipping away Miller and Ott, will be looking to build for the future.
At the other end of the standings, teams—now more than ever after the Blues deal set the pace—are going to attempt to add a final piece for a run at the Stanley Cup.
Finally, you have teams that will be rumored at the center of every other deal yet will eventually stand patter than Tweety Bird in Link's Iron Boots.
Either way, thanks to the potential chain reaction set off by St. Louis and Buffalo, we are headed for an exciting several days. Let's take a look at the most recent gossip circumventing the league.
Pittsburgh Penguins Are Yes-ler on Kesler?
(Sorry about that)
Last week, TVA Sports' Louis Jean reported that Team USA star Ryan Kesler was asking the Vancouver Canucks for a trade, but he later said the 29-year-old had denied that claim:
No matter where the truth actually lies, though, it's enough of an opening for the Pittsburgh Penguins to "aggressively" pursue Kesler, according to sources close to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi:
A proposed deal would send Kesler to the Penguins in exchange for center Brandon Sutter, two 2014 draft picks — likely a first- and third-round — and the Canucks' choice of defensemen Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin, the sources said.
Kesler, who has a no-trade clause but according to Rossi's sources would welcome a move to Pittsburgh, has 21 goals and 18 assists through 62 games this season. He leads NHL centers in both time on the ice per game and total shots.
Now, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in town, center isn't exactly a position where Pittsburgh is lacking talent. But the addition of Kesler—who could also play right wing if necessary—would give the Pens a Big Three at the position reminiscent of Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal, who helped win a Stanley Cup in 2009.
Pittsburgh already looks like the class of the East, but lassoing Kesler would give Dan Bylsma a scary offensive attack.
Jaroslav Halak Racking up Frequent Flier Miles
Jaroslav Halak may be on the move. Again.
Just days after being sent to the Sabres as part of the Miller deal, the 28-year-old goaltender is now being rumored as a target for the Minnesota Wild, which sit in seventh place in the East with several teams not far behind.
Murray is now trying to trade Halak to the Wild. He’s 28, in the last year of his contract and was 24-9-4 with the Blues with a 2.23 goals-against average. But some inside the Wild worry he was a product of the Blues’ stingy system and there’s a reason St. Louis felt Miller, not Halak, was the final piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle.
There's no doubt that Halak, who has faced just 25.05 shots per game this season, has benefited from the Blues defense. Hell, even he himself admitted it, via The Buffalo News' John Vogl:
Product of the system or not, Halak would be a welcomed addition for Minnesota, which is in need of assistance in between the pipes.
Josh Harding was in the midst of a career year but hasn't played since Dec. 31 and remains out indefinitely after having his treatment for multiple sclerosis altered. Niklas Backstrom has been ineffective and hurt. Darcy Kuemper has filled in admirably, allowing just 2.20 goals per game, but the Wild could stand to shore up the position behind the rookie.
Carolina Hurricanes Turning into Sellers?
The Carolina Hurricanes still have playoff hopes in a crowded Eastern Conference, but five consecutive losses have dropped them to 13th place and severely diminished their chances of playing hockey in late April.
As such, TSN's Darren Dreger believes Kirk Muller's squad has all three of its goaltenders on the trade block:
Cam Ward has been the worst of Carolina's trio, going just 6-9-5 and allowing 3.23 goals per game. Anton Khudobin, meanwhile, is 13-8-0, giving up 2.17 goals on average, while Justin Peters is 7-9-4 with a 2.50 GAA.
Still, Ward is undoubtedly the most intriguing. The former Conn Smythe Award winner has Stanley Cup experience and could give a boost to a team like Minnesota in need of depth for the stretch run.
Considering his struggles and $6.3 million cap hit, he could be had for relatively cheap, as well.
Stats via NHL.com.
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