With the NHL trade deadline just around the corner, teams are scrambling to make the deal that will make their team a contender.
At this point in the season, teams can be split up into three categories. Stanley Cup hopefuls, playoff hopefuls, and the down and outs.
The mad shuffle that is the NHL trade deadline usually sees veteran players move from the down and out teams to the contending teams in return for young talent.
The teams at the bottom of the league are looking to clear cap space and make moves that will benefit their organization in the future.
Oftentimes the trade deadline can be a good opportunity for a contender to snatch up a talented veteran at a cheap price. However, everything depends on how many interested suitors there are.
Here are some veterans that could provide the talent and leadership to help a team turn from pretender to contender:
The Edmonton Oilers are in last place in the NHL with only 40 points. With all hopes of making the playoffs gone so early in the season, the Oilers are looking to make moves to improve in the long run.
Ales Hemsky is one veteran who might be on his way out before February 28th.
He is under contract to make $5 million next season which would be a $4.1 million cap hit for the Oilers.
Hemsky battled injuries last season, but has been one of the better skaters for Edmonton this year. He has nine goals and 22 assists in 37 games.
Teams searching for a play-maker at forward just might be willing to give up the young talent that the Oilers are asking for.
Dustin Penner is the least likely to leave of the two Edmon Oilers on this list. He has expressed his desire to stay with the Oiler's organization for the long-term.
However, his experience will be highly sought after, as he possesses the ability to score goals when playing on a good team. Just last year he scored 32 and had 31 assists.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings are both in the market for a winger who can put the puck in the net.
However, they will have to provide something special to lure Penner away from Edmonton.
Richards moving is a shot in the dark. First of all, he has a no trade clause in his contract, so the decision to move is ultimately up to him. Second of all, the Stars are in a dogfight for a Western conference playoff bid.
Granted, they technically third place in the West. However, only three points separate them from the eighth place Calgary flames, and the Stars are just five points from missing out on the playoffs.
If they continue their current losing streak, maybe they will start listening to offers on Richards.
After all, he is one of the most talented veterans out there, and he could fetch a pretty penny in return.
Bottom line: if the stars keep moving down in the standings, and a team is willing to provide enough compensation, look for Richards to be wearing a different sweater come playoff time.
The New York Rangers have made it clear that they are not shopping their star winger.
However, a move before the trade deadline could clear up some much needed cap room for a team that has only $2.3 million in cap room.
Marian Gaborik is a prolific scorer who has not been producing up to his potential in New York.
He could potentially be a quick fix for a team in need of an offensive spark, but as he is set to make $7.5 million for the next three seasons, potential suitors will need to be in it for the long haul.
Chris Phillips is having an uncharacteristically rough year with the struggling Ottawa Senators.
He has only four points and is minus 27 in 55 games played. Normally teams would look at those stats and steer clear.
However, Phillips is a veteran defenseman who, throughout his career, has proven to be a solid NHL talent.
Teams looking to strengthen their blue line may get Phillips for a bargain.
The Thrashers are on the playoff bubble in the Eastern conference. However, that may not be enough to force them to keep Nik Antropov.
A lot of teams are in the market for a veteran center who has proven to be a force in the NHL, and Antropov fits the description.
With his $4 million cap hit for the next two years, the Thrashers might be looking to offload him now when his demand is high.
Kovalev is another player who is under performing in Ottawa.
The Senators might be looking to get something in return for Kovalev who will become an unrestricted free agent in the off season.
Alex Kovalev has proven that he can score goals, and his talents could help a team in the short run.
Look for a contender in need of a proven goal scorer to snatch Kovalev up for what shouldn't be too high of a price.
Veteran goaltending is crucial down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Tomas Vokoun is among a number of veterans that the Florida Panthers might be willing to move.
The right time to offload a veteran like Vokoun is just before the deadline when teams are scrambling to solidify their goaltending rotation.
Florida should be asking a substantial price for Vokoun, and there may only be a couple of teams willing to pay it.
If the New Jersey Devils trade Jason Arnott, they will do so right before the deadline.
Although they are 13 points outside of a playoff spot, there is still hope within the organization that the Devils will be able to build on their recent hot streak and make a run at the eighth seed.
While this is very unlikely, the Devils will wait until they are all but mathematically out of the race before trading a veteran like Arnott.
Arnott will be entering free agency in the off season, and the Devils would do well to get something in return before he could leave for free.
Look for Arnott to be a deadline blockbuster deal involving a Stanley Cup contender.
Tomas Kaberle has been the topic of many trade rumors, and it is looking like he will leave Toronto this season.
Kaberle has a no trade clause in his contract that could keep him with the Leafs, but the potential to play for a Stanley Cup may persuade him to leave.
The Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadians and San Jose Sharks have already expressed interest in the veteran defenseman. However, they will need to send something good Toronto's way if they hope to acquire Kaberle's services.
Look for Kaberle to be traded for young players with some potential.
Just a little food for thought: Imagine Kessel returning to Boston in a package deal with Kaberle. It's not out of the question as the Bruins have lost the services of Marc Savard for the remainder of the year. Just a thought...