The 2014 NHL trade deadline is scheduled for March 5, and the latest rumors surrounding the biggest names on the market have hockey fans across the world on edge.
With Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur reportedly on the market, the buzz at the deadline will be at a fever pitch.
Here are the latest rumors circulating within the NHL.
Ottawa Senators Quietly Shopping Jason Spezza?
As the Ottawa Senators fall out of contention in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the chances that the franchise could become a seller at the deadline continue to grow exponentially.
One of the top names reportedly on the trade block is Ottawa captain Jason Spezza.
According to a report from TSN, the Senators have been testing the market for Spezza’s worth, but the franchise has denied all such discussions:
Sources tell TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger that the team is 'quietly gauging interest' on the Senators captain, though Spezza has a limited no-trade clause and carries a large contract. The news comes amidst other reports that the Senators have been searching for a winger to play with him. However, general manager Bryan Murray says he has not talked about the 30-year-old centre.
Spezza is one of the best players on Ottawa’s roster, but he has not performed at an elite level consistently enough to warrant the $7 million salary-cap hit he has on the books. Between injuries and a lack of offensive firepower around him, Spezza has not lived up to the lofty expectations.
The no-trade clause in his contract is a major holdup in any potential deal, but with several teams that need depth and talent at the center positions, adding Spezza to a roster at the deadline could be the difference between a franchise making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup.
Ryan Kesler Drawing Serious Interest from Pittsburgh?
The Vancouver Canucks are trying to stay in contention for a Western Conference postseason berth, but there is a report, via Louis Jean of TVA Sports, that forward Ryan Kesler has requested a trade.
One of the teams most interested in Kesler is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins have already put together a preliminary package to acquire Kelser:
The Penguins have offered Vancouver a package that includes C Brandon Sutter, either of Ds Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin, and their first- and third-round picks at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. That they are willing now to soften on their stance against including D Derrick Pouliot, a first-round pick from 2012, is an indication of just how badly they want Kesler. Also, the Penguins believe Philadelphia and Chicago will bring big offers for Kesler.
The entire Vancouver franchise has been disappointing this season due to injuries and lackluster play in all aspects of the game, but Kesler is still one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL.
Pittsburgh has a deep roster full of talented offensive players, but the franchise has lacked an elite forechecker and penalty killer since Jordan Staal was traded. If the Penguins can add Kesler, the team will be in the driver’s seat for another Stanley Cup.
Minnesota Wild Hunting for a Goaltender?
The Minnesota Wild are in a serious predicament. With former starting goalie Niklas Backstrom battling injury issues and consistency all season, and emerging star Josh Harding dealing with complications from multiple sclerosis, the franchise may be forced to make a deadline deal.
Whether it’s New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, St. Louis’ Jaroslav Halak or another option, the Wild are reportedly looking to add depth at a position of need.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting, “A source this past weekend simply told me the Wild were kicking tires on different goalie options.”
On the surface, Brodeur looks like the better option. He is a veteran who has been around the league long enough to know what is expected of him with his new team, but he is not the same player he was five years ago.
Minnesota should be looking to acquire Halak instead.
Not only is Halak the younger option, but he also played in a similar defensive style with the St. Louis Blues before being shipped to the Buffalo Sabres in the Ryan Miller trade. Regardless of who the Wild target, the team must trade for a goalie at the deadline.