Well, now that the Chicago Blackhawks have capped off the 2009-10 season on the ice with the Stanley Cup, there are a couple of off-ice events that must be addressed before July 1, when the free agency floodgates open.
First, the NHL Awards will take place next week. Some of the great individual performances of this past year will be rewarded.
Second, the NHL Entry Draft will also take place on June 25, and we will all find out who goes to Edmonton. Taylor or Tyler.
With that being said, the draft is also the time of year where some major deals can go down.
Over the last few years, we've seen names like Chris Pronger and Mike Cammalleri change teams at the draft.
Expect more of the same this time around, as teams position themselves for next season on the ice, as well as off it financially.
Here are some deals that need to take place between now and July.
This will address the needs of some teams, some players, and their respective situations.
Toronto's Tomas Kaberle must be traded for two reasons.
The veteran would be a perfect addition for a team seeking a puck-moving blue-liner who is also a great power play QB and has a very modest cap hit.
And personally, I would like to see these annoying Kaberle rumors come to an end. (Even if the guy signed a contract extension with a no-movement clause, don't you get the feeling that the chatter still wouldn't stop?)
On a serious note, GM Brian Burke needs more help up front.
With Dion Phaneuf, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, and Luke Schenn already on the back end, Kaberle is the perfect trading chip to either land a top-six forward, or maybe a pick and a good prospect.
Leaf fans, let's be realistic, though.
Bobby Ryan, Jeff Carter, James Neal, and Nathan Horton are among the names that are not coming to Toronto in any sort of straight swap for Kaberle.
However, Burke is known for his creativity, so don't be surprised if he nets a high-end prospect or a first-round pick.
Kaberle has already been linked to the Blue Jackets. GM Scott Howson could definitely use the Czech on the back end.
But any Leaf fan who thinks names like Voracek, Brassard, or Filatov will be shipped along with the fourth overall pick for Kaberle should stop dreaming.
Montreal has quite a dilemma on its hands. Both Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price are heading for restricted free agency come July 1.
Price was drafted by Bob Gainey as the team's goalie of the future, while Halak came on this year in the second half, and was absolutely spectacular in the playoffs.
Both could be re-signed and kept by the Habs, but it will eventually boil over.
Although both goaltenders get along well, they want to start in the National Hockey League.
Price could probably fetch more in terms of trade value and might be due for a fresh start elsewhere.
A deal where Montreal trades Price to Philadelphia for Jeff Carter makes plenty of sense.
You must be wondering, "Why would the Flyers do this deal, especially after what they just did this postseason?"
Well, regardless of the team's heroics, and Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher's superb play in getting the team to the Final, the argument could be made that Philly lost to Chicago because of shaky goaltending.
Leighton was pulled in two of the six games played, and was unstable in a few others.
You don't see a true No. 1 get pulled twice in one series. You just don't.
The team also played well without Carter for long stretches. And even though he was in the lineup for the Final, he was a non-factor for the whole series.
Claude Giroux and Ville Leino have emerged, which gives GM Paul Holmgren some options.
Moving Carter might be one of them.
Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, and Scott Hartnell have had their names mentioned as trade bait, but all three possess some form of clause, whether it be no-trade or no-movement.
Carter is the only one up front who doesn't have the contract stipulation.
Yes, Price will have to play in front of a hostile Philly crowd, but nobody can argue that the toughest place to play for a goaltender is in Montreal.
Price might welcome the change.
As for Montreal, Carter would basically replace Tomas Plekanec up front, and would also free up a bit of money to shore up other needs.
Before he left, Gainey constructed a team that was built to compete now, especially with Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri's contracts.
With that being said, Halak is the better short-term fix.
We all know the story here. The Hawks captured the Stanley Cup last week and have major cap issues to address going forward.
Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Brent Sopel, and Cristobal Huet are all prime trade candidates.
Huet likely won't be dealt. Sopel might actually fetch a late pick after the tremendous effort he showed in the playoffs.
Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Sharp would be enticing for most teams. I think Chicago should do everything it can to not deal Sharp.
He is one of the most underrated players in the league and does so many different things for the Hawks.
The smartest move might be to package up Buff and Versteeg, and try to ship them to a team that has a top-10 pick.
That way, Chicago can alleviate some immediate cap concerns (chances are that Huet will probably be sent to the minors), and also get a young stud that won't have to be in the lineup for another year or two.
The Blue Jackets, Islanders, and Panthers are prime trade targets.
The chances of Chicago and Columbus making a deal are slim, but it wouldn't be the least surprising to see Florida and new GM Dale Tallon take on a couple of his former players from the Windy City.
Can Jason Spezza be moved after July 1? No.
Can Jason Spezza be moved before July 1? Yes.
Will Jason Spezza be moved? Very unlikely.
However, this much is known. Spezza is not happy being the fans' whipping boy when it comes to playoff failures.
He has shared that with GM Terry Murray, who in turn let the media know. That upset Spezza, and although he isn't pulling a Dany Heatley here by asking for a deal, you know there is some friction between him and the management now.
Yes, there are better trade partners out there that might address Ottawa's needs more than the Flames could, but I'm looking at this from Calgary's perspective.
This is probably their one and only shot to land a true play-making pivot who can play with Jarome Iginla.
The main cog that Calgary would have to ship off is Robyn Regehr. As much as the Flames wouldn't want to part with him, the Senators would truly welcome him with open arms.
He would provide great leadership and would replace Anton Volchenkov, who most likely will be departing for greener pastures.
Calgary could also give up Daymond Langkow, who would at least give Ottawa somebody to plug down the middle.
Yes, he's getting old and hasn't played his best the last few years, but the veteran could still contribute.
Plus, by getting Langkow and Regehr, Murray will have some money to use with Volchenkov gone and can address other needs.
Of course, GM Darryl Sutter will most likely have to give up something else from the farm to make this happen. It definitely would have to be more than just Langkow and Regehr.
Another option might be to ship Ales Kotalik to Ottawa instead of Langkow. Murray might not want to take on the contract, so Sutter could sweeten the pot tremendously by putting Mikael Backlund into the deal.
Yes, Flames fans would not be happy with that.
But if this is Sutter's last kick at the cat, he'll mortgage the future to make one last run with his core group intact before it gets blown up in a year's time.
Yes, Souray wants a trade, and no, he doesn't want to play for Boston.
But if I'm him, considering the current situation in Edmonton, I would rather go play for a team that is still a playoff contender, rather than head for a team that is obviously in rebuilding mode.
I can see a scenario unfold where the Bruins and Oilers make a deal that would swap the top two picks and a player or two from each side.
Boston might want to give up Michael Ryder or Dennis Wideman's bad contract, but I can see the Oilers taking either, just to get the disgruntled Souray out of their city and save a few dollars in the process.