When a team is in need of a defenseman during the season in the NHL, they quickly realize that they can be few and far between, especially in the salary cap era.
Upcoming free agents, players with big contracts, or just an opportunity to make a change for a team in need of one, the reasons to part ways with a defender can be endless, but it's not always a smart idea when you think of what's available on the market.
This season, while there isn't exactly a plethora of superstars available, there are some great defenders who potentially could be changing addresses this season if the right suitor comes calling.
Just because they find themselves on this list doesn't mean they're a sure thing to be traded, but due to their team's situation, contract situation, or potential offers coming there way, they're the logical choice to be packing their bags.
You can never have enough defensemen and in the NHL with the playoff races and divisional battles just heating up this season, every team will have their eyes peeled for a chance to snag a blue liner on the market.
Here's 25 defensemen who just might find themselves on that market this season.
It's been rumoured that the San Jose Sharks want another big name defender to push them over the top this season, and if that's the case they'll probably have to give one up in return. As a free agent at the end of the year and a contract paying him a manageable $1.7 million this year, Kent Huskins is a logical choice to be on the way out.
A late bloomer coming into the league(drafted in 1998, played his first game in 2006), the 31-year-old played his first full NHL season last year with the Sharks and recorded a respectable three goals and 22 points through 82 games.
He's a big body (6'4", 210 pounds) and would add some punch to a blue line that's lacking in that department. He's also a guy who did his time in the minors (four seasons in the ECAC, five seasons in the AHL) so he appreciates the opportunity he has in the NHL, and it shows through his play on the ice.
The term 'rental player' comes up often around trade deadline time each and every season, and at 39-years-old in the final year of his contract, Sean O'Donnell might just fit under that category for a team headed into the playoffs and searching for an experienced blue liner.
O'Donnell has over 1,100 games and 1,700 PIMs under his belt since entering the league as a Los Angeles King in 1994.
He can still handle the load of playing in the second or third pairing of a team as he plays around 16 minutes a night for the Philadelphia Flyers.
He is the only Flyers' defender who is a free agent at the end of the season.
The Buffalo Sabres have been involved in more than a few trade talks this season, and one of the players who could be on their way out is Steve Montador. The 30-year-old Vancouver, BC native is in the final year of his contract that pays him $1.55 million this season.
Montador is on pace for a career year points wise, with three goals and 11 points already (his career high being eight goals and 23 points in 2007-08).
He's averaging over 20 minutes a game this season on the not-so powerful Sabres and has a lots to offer to any team that may come calling.
He wouldn't be the top two defender that many teams are on the hunt for, but bringing him in would add more stability and toughness, as well as a solid puck-mover who has plenty of NHL experience.
He's not the kind of guy that will join an organization this season and become their number one guy, but Steve Eminger can add that sturdy, effective player who reliably can play 15-20 minutes a night. He does what he's asked to do, and for the New York Rangers he's been a hard worker thus far in 2010-11.
He's become a journeyman in the NHL, playing for five different teams since 2008 when he left the Washington Capitals.
And in this league as it seems, once a journeyman, always a journeyman. Eminger would be one of the guys who could be on his way out, especially with talks that the Rangers are interested in the services of one Brad Richards, who has been the talk of the NHL this season.
Eminger might add that little something extra to a trade that pushes the deal over the top, and as the Rangers have always made abundantly clear; they're always willing to make a trade and bring in that big-money guy at all costs.
Eminger is a free agent at the end of the season, making $1.125 million this season.
As a member of the surprisingly good Columbus Blue Jackets this season, Jan Hejda has shown he can be an effective defensive player on a successful team.
He's a free agent at the end of the year and though he's 32-years-old, is only in his fifth NHL season after playing much of his hockey career in Russia and the Czech Republic.
He would add strength and size (6'4", 237 pounds) to any roster and is a beast for forwards to deal with in front of his own net. He makes just $2 million this season which means he's also affordable.
Columbus is doing well right now, but if later on they get an offer or feel they need to add something, Hejda would be a safe bet to be the one on the way out.
The Dallas Stars are going to have difficulty signing anyone to a new contract if they can't get their ownership situation figured out, and if that's the case then players like Trevor Daley could be on the market this season.
He plays a gritty style of game, will get up in the face of offensive players, and can be relied on to be a steady blue liner for any playoff contending team or otherwise.
He has played his entire seven-year career in Dallas and surely would like the chance to stay there, but as previously mentioned, it's unlikely the Stars will be able to do much negotiating while in this tough time. Daley makes $2.3 million this season and is the second-highest paid defender on the team after Stephane Robidas ($3.3 million).
He surely would get some interest this year from team's headed to the playoffs, and with a salary that is reasonable to deal with he might not be a Star for much longer.
There's been some speculation already this season that Kyle Cumiskey could be one of the players used as trade bait to try and add something up front for the Colorado Avalanche.
Cumiskey, who will turn just 24 in December, is a small (5'10", 185 pounds) but speedy defenseman who would be a good, young addition to any team. He has an offensive flair to his game and looks to be on his way to breakout season with the Avalanche.
After scoring seven goals and 20 points in 61 games last season, he is off to an even better start this year with one goal and five assists while appearing in just 11 games. If given the right opportunity somewhere, he could get more minutes and prove to be a budding star in the NHL.
He's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, making just $600,000 this year, and for a team to have the opportunity to trade for, and then sign a young defenseman like Cumiskey, it might be a chance too hard to pass up.
The Atlanta Thrashers are Brent Sopel's fourth stop in the NHL, and if Sopel finds himself on the market this season it could be his shortest stay yet.
The Thrashers have the most cap space in the NHL, so the fact that Sopel is a free agent isn't the most difficult thing to deal with, but after coming over from the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason, they may not want to continue paying him the kind of money that he's making now ($2.3 million), even with all the cap room in the world (thanks to what's-his-name leaving).
He's playing second pairing minutes for the surprising Thrashers this season, and depending on whether they continue their great play late into the season, or find themselves back in the basement, Sopel could be on to his next stop on the tour he calls the NHL.
He's just another name on the long list of New Jersey Devils who could be sent packing in return for salary cap space due to the team's struggles both on and off the ice. Bryce Salvador is a free agent after the 2011-2012 season and makes $2.9 million each season until then.
Though he is currently sidelined after suffering a concussion in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers, if he comes back and is healthy then he could be used as trade bait.
With him out of the lineup as of now, the cap issues aren't as bad for the Devils, but when Salvador has recovered and is cleared to play, it's not certain whether the team will be able to afford his services, and probably will be forced to either trade him to clear space, or someone else in order for him to enter the lineup.
The hard times in New Jersey don't look easy to fix, but if they can dump the salary of a defenseman like Salvador, it might give them some breathing room until they can figure out to further solve their issues.
The Montreal Canadiens have started hot out of the gate this season and are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference thus far. Their defense and goaltending has been stellar thanks to a total team effort and they look poised for another solid run to the playoffs this season.
Whether they need more help up front is up for debate, but with Roman Hamrlik's contract running out at the end of the season, he may be the number one trade bait candidate on the team. He averages over 20 minutes of ice time and is steady and reliable around the net.
He would fit in on any second or third pairing, whether for a playoff team or one in rebuild mode.
Sheldon Souray, yes, the forgotten defenseman of the Edmonton Oilers who now plays in the AHL as a member of the Hershey Bears is still alive, and wanting another chance in the NHL.
He is currently paid $4.5 million to suit up in the minors, but after being waived twice this season with no takers, the team had no choice but send the disgruntled defender down.
There is no denying Souray's resume in the NHL, as he's a two-time 20-goal scorer and formerly known as the most dangerous defenseman in the league on the powerplay. He scored 19 powerplay goals in the 2006-07 season, and followed that up with another 12 PP goals in 2008-09.
When he's at the top of his game, he still has the potential to be one of the best, but the 34-year old clearly wanted out of Edmonton, and it showed in his play. He also dealt with injury issues that sidelined him for most of last season.
He could be a great pickup for a team in need this season, only because if he is called up on to the NHL again, he would have to go through waivers for a third time, and that would mean if a team were to trade for him they would only need to pay him half his salary, while the Oilers took care of the other half.
It would be the kind of deal that would benefit both sides, but questions still remain about his motivation and only time will tell if there is team out there willing to take the risk and trade for him.
But it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see the veteran back in the NHL before season's end.
He was the heart and soul of the Edmonton Oilers for eight seasons before he was traded last year to the rival Calgary Flames, but this season the 37-year-old Steve Staios could be once again on the move.
He's a gritty, tough, veteran defenseman and has been there done that as far as the NHL goes. As a free agent at the end of the season, and Calgary both struggling and rubbing up right against the salary cap, he could be a $2.7 million load off the mind of the Sutter brothers.
He'd be a welcome addition to most young dressing rooms and would bring with him 15 years of experience under his belt.
With him on the move from Calgary it would serve as some much needed cap relief, while at the same time adding stability to a blue line on a receiving team elsewhere.
Scott Hannan has a better chance of getting hit by lightning than scoring a goal, but if you're a team looking for a solid stay-at-home defender, he's your man for the job. He has 30 goals in 775 games, but Hannan has made a career of playing effective in his own zone.
He is Colorado's second-highest paid player at $4.5 million, but is a free agent at the end of this season. The Avalanche are in no dire need to free up cap space, but in order to add something to their team later in the season, he would be the likely player on the trade block.
He's played his 12 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado, and at just 31-years-old is still a great option for any team.
The money might be an issue for some, but for those looking for some experience he has to be an option and the Avalanche will undoubtedly get more than one call regarding Hannan's services for the remainder of 2010-11.
Honestly, it would be fair to put the entire New Jersey Devils team on this list thanks to the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk, and the fact that they're now so far over the salary cap that they ask fans for money on the way out of games.
But as the only UFA on the blue line after this season, Andy Greene could be one of the odd men out (because there will be multiple) as the team tries to free up some much needed cap space. He makes just $737,500 this season and is a bargain after putting up six goals and 37 points last season.
After playing a minor role on the team through his first three seasons with the Devils, his breakout campaign last year has him now averaging over 20 minutes a game, with two goals and 10 points through 24 games this season.
He's one of the best bang-for-your-buck defenders in the NHL, and with the Devils' cap issues he might be relatively easy to take off their hands.
At 28 and in the prime of his career, it would be shame for New Jersey to have to let him go just as he found his game, but there's a good chance that they may have no choice in that matter.
Let him walk in the summer, or get something in return during the season.
The captain of the Buffalo Sabres, Craig Rivet, hasn't been much use to team lately as he's been a healthy scratch more than once this season, only fueling the rumours that he could be on his way out of Buffalo this season. He's played just 14 games this year.
There have been rumours of interest from a few teams in the West, but it all depends on who would be able to handle his $3.5 million contract. Good news is that it runs out after this season, so acquiring the 36-year-old free-agent-to-be would not be that big of a hit for any team.
His struggles may be a hindrance to the chances of him getting traded, but Buffalo clearly not finding much use for him these days, he could be the kind of player that doesn't cost a team too much to trade for.
With the Sabres likely to be fighting tooth and nail just to crack the final eight teams at season's end, you can bet they'd be interested in adding talent at any position, and that probably spells the end for Rivet as both team captain and member.
In case you've been ignoring all news concerning the Toronto Maple Leafs this season (and really, who could blame you?) the team is in dire need of some help scoring. And by dire need, I of course mean they're so desperate that GM Brian Burke might start auctioning off his limbs in order to get the big time scorer the team needs to badly.
One area where the club is stable in is on defense, where they boast the highest-paid blue line in league, and one that is much improved from previous dreadful seasons defensively.
Francois Beauchemin is one of the Leafs veteran blue liners who has already been involved in trade talks this season, and they're not likely to die down until the Leafs are able to snag some more scoring assistance.
He makes $3.8 million over the next two seasons before he become a free agent in 2012. He is a former Stanley Cup champion and at 30-years-old has plenty to offer for a team who needs some strength and shooting ability from the back end.
Beauchemin could be on the way out of Toronto if Burke can package him in a deal that would bring in the kind of scoring he is looking for.
He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but Kevin Bieksa could be on his way out of Vancouver before then. And this wouldn't be the first time he was a part of trade rumours.
Bieksa is a workhorse and is terribly physical and tough to play against. He makes $3.75 million this season and him leaving would give the Canucks some much needed breathing room-because they have absolutely none right now.
He's played his entire six-year career in Vancouver, but with the big names they've brought in on defense, it may be time for Bieksa to move on to somewhere else.
There isn't a team in the NHL who couldn't use his physicality, and as a rock defensively he will be popular in trade talks more than once this season, one would imagine.
Just in case he felt like getting comfortable in Carolina, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that Ian White could be on the move again later this season. After coming over from the Calgary Flames earlier in November, White jumped right into a young, speedy Hurricanes lineup.
But with almost the entire Hurricanes roster either an unrestricted or restricted free agent at the end of the season, White might end up having a rather short stay.
He's become somewhat of a journeyman in the past two season after heading to Calgary from Toronto last season, playing just 43 games as a Flame, before arriving in Carolina.
If Hurricanes' brass doesn't think they can pay him the kind of money he'll be asking for on a new contract, White will be a hot commodity for teams who feel they need an offensively-minded defender for the home stretch.
You know him for his not-so-subtle gesture towards everyone's favourite pest, Sean Avery earlier this season, but besides that James Wisniewski is in the midst of the best season of his career.
His career high in points in 30 (three goals, 27 assists), which he recorded last season as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, but is on pace to shatter that mark with two goals and 14 points already after playing just 20 games this year.
Though the New York Islanders are mired in a terrible slump to start the year, Wisniewski has been one of the best stories on the team-despite his not-so-special moment against the Rangers. He moved on quickly apparently, and because of that, will certainly have some interest from around the league.
The Islanders will be in no hurry to get rid of the 26-year-old, who mixes speed and toughness in his game, but if the right offer comes along, he could be on the move-especially as a free agent at the end of the year.
The youth movement is in full effect in St. Louis and the 31-year-old Eric Brewer might find himself not apart of the team's long term plans. As a free agent after the season and the team's highest-paid defenseman at $4.25 million he looks to be the perfect trade candidate for the Blues to bulk up for the post season.
Brewer has been with the club since 2005 after coming over from the Edmonton Oilers, and though he has dealt with constant injury issues, has proven to be a steady defender for the club every season.
With the success the team is having this season after finally landing their franchise goalie in Jaroslav Halak, the team looks to be gearing up for a playoff run and will need some more muscle if that's the case.
Brewer has trade value at just 31, and the stay-at-home defenseman has been rumoured to be on the move if a trade opportunity comes knocking for the Blues.
Robyn Regehr has been nothing short of a workhorse for the Calgary Flames, and is currently playing in his 11th season with the club.
He was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, 19th overall, but was subsequently traded to the Flames and began his career with them the next season in 1999. He hasn't looked back since and has played almost 800 games wearing the flaming C on his chest.
He's owed $4.02 million per season until 2013, and even with a no movement clause in his contract, Regehr's time in Calgary could be over as both sides could be in for a change. The team looks to be headed for a lost season and Regehr may not want to be apart of that. He may welcome a trade if the team comes to him suggesting the idea.
His name has been thrown around already this season, and at just 30-years-old could serve as a great pickup for a team in the thick of things in the playoff hunt.
If a team is looking for an experienced defenseman to help them late in the season and through the playoffs this year, they may be no better place to go than Ed Jovanovski.
He'll play in his 1000th career game before Christmas this season and can handle the big minutes on the blue line if need be. Even though it feels like Jovo Cop has been in the NHL forever, he's just 34-years-old and would make a great addition to any team in need of a veteran defenseman.
He won't put up big numbers, but he can shoulder the load and be a wall in front of the net. His experience is the key here, and would be valuable to anyone in contention.
And really, is there such a team that doesn't need a grizzled veteran on the blue line?
No, no there is not.
He's one of the most reliable defenders on the Carolina Hurricanes, but as a free agent at the end of the season he could see his time in Hurricane Country come to an end.
He isn't a high-scoring player, nor is he overly physical, but Pitkanen does offer stability on the back end and has been one of the best defenders on the Hurricanes. He logs a ton of ice time and has been over the 30-minute mark this year already.
If Carolina finds themselves out of playoff contention, he could be a viable option for teams looking to add a boost on the blue line as they gear up for the post season.
It all depends on whether the Finland native resigns with the club before then, but if a contract isn't in the works then Pitkanen is likely to be shopped around the league.
Would a team really pony up the cash and be willing to trade for Brian Campbell and his monstrous contract that pays him $7 million per season until 2016? Well, it's not likely but it certainly is possible, especially since the Chicago Blackhawks could use the cap space.
Campbell is a great puck moving defenseman, is effective on the powerplay, and can bring that speed out of the zone that some teams are in need of. It's just that his contract is so big, and would take a team with serious cap space to even consider trading for the 31-year-old.
What makes the situation even more complicated is that Campbell has a no-trade clause in his contract, which states that if the team wishes to trade him, he is able to submit a list of eight teams he would be willing to go to, and then the Hawks have 45 days to trade him to one of those teams, otherwise the deal is off.
It certainly doesn't make it easy, but Campbell has been in the odd trade rumour before, so seeing his name back on the market wouldn't be the biggest surprise to anyone.
For the past two seasons Tomas Kaberle has been in trade rumours nonstop, so why quit now? He's got a no-trade clause in his contract which means he doesn't go anywhere unless he gives it the okay, but as a free agent at the end of the season, he may finally concede his time in Toronto is over.
It may never come to that, but if a team in contention is willing to make a trade for Kaberle and it's somewhere he has an interest in going, the long-time Leaf could be on his way out before the trade deadline has passed.
He has the ability to be the perfect quarterback for any powerplay, and has made a career of feathering passes on a pillow to his teammates ready and waiting to unload the one-timer.
He's one of the best defenseman available, and with his puck-moving ability he'll certainly be a hot commodity in trade talks.