The NHL trade deadline falls on Wednesday afternoon, and as many moves as have already occurred, there is the potential for even more high-profile players to be moved before it expires.
Chief among the buzzed-about stars are center Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Marian Gaborik. Both forwards offer great value and have been at the epicenter of the most recent speculation on potential deals.
Another notable stalwart on the block is longtime New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. The 41-year-old living legend is one of the best netminders in NHL history and may be leaving the team he's spent his entire, illustrious career with.
Let's take a closer look at the situations surrounding Stastny, Gaborik and Brodeur, who all played Tuesday evening but could find themselves on new clubs later on Wednesday.
Many Teams Interested in Paul Stastny
It's unclear just how many front offices are blowing up the Avs' phone lines to inquire about a Stastny trade, but Adrian Dater of The Denver Post did nothing to dismiss the buzz:
Avs getting lots of calls from teams. Gonna be an interesting next 24 hours on Stastny— Adrian Dater (@adater) March 4, 2014
Mike Kelly of NHL Network was intrigued to see what would happen with Stastny, given the immense interest in him ahead of the deadline:
Interested to see what happens with Paul Stastny in next 23 hours. UFA but has been part of monster line with Landeskog & MacKinnon— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) March 4, 2014
Two key factors to note from Kelly's brief analysis: Stastny is an unrestricted free agent after this season and could flee Colorado without the Avalanche getting any value for him in return. That's one big risk of keeping him, but then again, he's thriving with a talented, young supporting cast to complement him in dynamic rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.
With MacKinnon being incredibly gifted at 18 and Landeskog at only 21, the 28-year-old Stastny is the clear senior of the bunch. If he commands a hefty contract this offseason, it might be too much for executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic and Co. to handle.
But Stastny said he was willing to give Colorado a discount so that he could stay and play for the Avalanche, since he feels he's in a good situation, per The Denver Post's Terry Frei:
Everybody knows how the business works. You can obviously go somewhere and get more money somewhere else. But if you have something good and you want to stick with it, that hometown discount is obviously something that everyone's aware of and is important to do. You want both sides to be happy. You don't want to (mistreat) the team and you want the team to be put in a good situation where they can kind of compete down the road as well.
The fact that he's willing to be flexible with whatever future may lay ahead in Colorado suggests that Stastny has a genuine interest in remaining with his current club.
If the Avalanche could manage to keep this amazing nucleus intact, it would be ideal. Netting assets in exchange for Stastny may complicate the future of building the roster even further, and it'd be a substantial risk since Stastny is already comfortable with the team and has innate chemistry with two premier, young stars.
Unless a team comes through with an offer that will undoubtedly boost Colorado's chances at capturing the Stanley Cup that it is so one-sided, don't expect Stastny to be on the move in the end.
Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins Reportedly Pursuing Marian Gaborik
Gaborik dished out an assist Tuesday in the Blue Jackets' 4-2 home victory over the Dallas Stars, flashing some of the skill that caused Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to trade for him last season. However, he has not quite lived up to his billing in making $7.5 million this season.
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the Jackets are seeking help on defense and that the Kings are indeed focused on acquiring Gaborik:
#CBJ GM Jarmo Kekalainen knee deep right now, trying to move Marian Gaborik. Believe they're looking for immediate help on defense.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) March 4, 2014
But with the limited production Gaborik has had in Columbus, it's possible that teams will ultimately be wary of pulling the trigger on a trade. Part of that has been due to missing 22 games with a broken collarbone, though, and at least one other team is seriously considering Gaborik.
Jimmy Murphy of NHL Network Radio reports that the Boston Bruins are in talks to make a last-second swap:
Per an NHL exec, the Bruins & Blue Jackets have discussed Gaborik. Leads me to wonder if Eriksson missing game Tues. was truly minor issue.— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) March 5, 2014
Gaborik, when he's been in the lineup, has been a rather solid contributor, with 14 points in 22 games this season. It's impressive that the Jackets have had a top-10 scoring offense without him for an extended stretch of time.
With Columbus on the playoff bubble in the Eastern Conference, Kekalainen may be wise to stand pat and see how he and Nathan Horton mesh down the stretch. If they can start playing to their respective abilities, the Jackets could be a serious force to be reckoned with.
That's a lot to ask and hope for when Gaborik can be had for strong value, so he may be on the move with more than one suitor coveting him.
Martin Brodeur to the Minnesota Wild?
This isn't new news by any means, but there was an interesting instance of specificity that emerged from Tuesday's latest update. It suggests that Brodeur may be leaving New Jersey on a high note after a 4-3 home win over the Detroit Red Wings.
On Tuesday morning, the Daily News reported that according to a source, the Devils and Minnesota Wild had a deal in place to send Brodeur west, pending Brodeur’s approval due to the no-trade clause in his contract. The source said Brodeur wanted to play one more home game for the Devils before being dealt, leading to his start on Tuesday night against the Wings.
The chance still looms for Brodeur to participate in the postseason, because the Wild are seventh in the Western Conference and could use his veteran presence between the pipes. Darcy Kuemper has played well with a 2.19 GAA and an 11-3-2 record, but he's just 23 and could use the mentoring.
There's a reason for the question mark in this section, though. As the Wild's official PR pointed out in acquiring goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday (confirmed via the team's official Twitter account), their depth issues may be resolved in the net with their newest addition:
TSN's Darren Dreger reports that as many as eight to nine teams are in the running for Brodeur's services:
Told Martin Brodeur has submitted a list to Lou Lamoriello of the teams he's willing to waive his NTC to go to. (8-9 teams)....— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 5, 2014
...Brodeur is obviously interested in a change and is waiting for the Devils gm to pull the trigger. Another great deadline day story.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 5, 2014
It should be interesting to see what the Devils do and whether or not Brodeur can find more playing time elsewhere.
Keeping Brodeur around would be a welcome development for fans and the veterans on the team who are so accustomed to having him around. However, with Cory Schneider playing well in New Jersey and Brodeur approaching the end of his career, a fresh start seems logical for both parties despite such a grand history of mutual success.