It's almost here.
The 2011 NHL trade deadline is just one day away.
Does it feel like Christmas Eve? Maybe not, but for most hockey fans it could be.
The fact that their team could receive a gift come tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST.
While sometimes the biggest deals are not always the best deals, these three teams will attempt to make savvy deals that will set their club up for future success, if not future victory.
With all the attention on those players being asked to waiver there no trade/movement clauses, others will be dealt as their clubs look towards rebuilding, saving salary cap money or simply needing to make a deal to spark their clubs.
There have been numerous trades executed already, making fans wondering if all the hoopla is gone come Monday.
For most of us it might be the only Monday in quite some time we're actually going to be looking forward to...
There are three teams that have the opportunity and resources to pull off a savvy trade come Monday. These teams are looking to "sneak" in the back door and do their best to pry away the players(s) they feel will complement their existing rosters.
Maybe not the biggest deals during the day or over the last three weeks, but nevertheless deals that over time could reap them great benefit.
In other words, these teams could certainly use a savvy trade or two, that will not only get into the play-offs, but to possibly make a big run starting this April.
Here are three teams that I think will make savvy deals at the deadline.
New owner, new attitude.
When a passionate man with deep pockets like Terry Pegula buys a hockey club, one would expect that he will be heavily involved in that team's operations.
When Mr. Pegula purchased the Buffalo Sabres earlier this month, he mentioned being a former season ticket holder and passionate fan of the club. This is great news for the people of Western New York state and Sabre fans everywhere.
With the resources to allow his hockey operations team to potentially be "buyers," the Sabres rumors that center Tim Connolly and others being traded might not be a viable option after all.
If the Sabres become "buyers" here at the deadline, expect the pool of "sellers" to be that much less.
This club recently waived their struggling captain, Craig Rivet, who was selected by Columbus. That opens up the potential for more cap dollars.
This team will be looking to add depth in all areas, but may in fact be looking for a backup goaltender to ease some of the burden off No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller.
There is a chance that a deal could be worked out to find a goalie, similar to the New York Islanders deal to acquire Al Montoya from the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Sabres will be looking to add another top six forward as the club has struggled to replace Derek Roy, who is gone for the season.
Their needs also include another defensive defenseman. By doing so, Coach Lindy Ruff would likely take the reins off of Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold, the Sabres' top two offensive defenseman.
The loss of captain and top center Mikko Koivu couldn't come at a worse time for the Minnesota Wild. Already struggling to keep their collective heads above water in the NHL's ultra tight Western Conference, the Wild have been playing better hockey as of late.
While they still have some key injuries to Guillaume Latendresse and the aforementioned Koivu, the Wild are getting some quality starts from former Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore and the return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard has elevated the team's top six forwards.
The Wild are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and currently are sixth in that tight Western Conference, which seems to change on a daily basis—and will likely continue to from now until mid April.
This hockey club has seen its fair share of changes this season alone.
Once a perennial sellout at home, the Wild have seen their fanbase becoming frustrated with the lack of success that this club once enjoyed under the Jacques Lemaire era.
However, Wild head coach Todd Richards has got his club to finally buy into his systems, and the club has enjoyed some moderate success.
Moving into the trade deadline, the Wild were considered a "bubble" team in terms of being a "buyer" or "seller" come Monday.
Right now, this club could be poised to make a few deals that will strengthen their club for the push to the playoffs. The Wild are hoping to be one of the eight team in the West that make the trip to the postseason.
Acquiring another top six forward and another depth defenseman might be what the Wild do come Monday.
The Flames are, well...on fire!
Okay, you know what I mean...they have turned around what seemed to be an impossible situation and began to play some great hockey over the last month.
As the trade deadline approached, many felt this club was going to be hacked up and stripped down in order to save cap dollars and obtain draft picks, something the Flames certainly do need moving forward.
Then they began a great run of wins and collecting valuable points, all along doing so in that ultra tight Western Conference. The Flames are now dealing with another dilemma: Are we "buyers" instead of "sellers"?
This might prove to be one of the biggest challenges that the Flames face. On one had, they are an improving club with key players delivering timely goals and role players playing up to expectations. Do you lose your momentum now just to acquire some draft picks and save cap dollars?
Most fans will say that teams that are struggling should "throw in the towel" and let their season slide in order to obtain a good draft position.
While most share that logic, the reality is that at some point your club has to win games. If not, someone if out of a job. When you're winning, good GMs do what they can to continue to support that positive culture.
Either way, the Flames looked poised to potentially add a player of two that might allow them to "sneak" into the Western Conference playoffs.
General Manager Jay Feaster, along with his staff are likely to see what is available in an effort to bolster this club's chances at the postseason and beyond.
The Flames might be willing to trade some of their blueline depth for help up front. Defenseman Adam Pardy and Brenden Mikkelson are possibilities.
Their recent waiver of Niklas Hagman and his $3 million salary and re-entry waivers for Ales Kotalik (a salary of $3 million as well) were efforts to save money with little impact to the roster.
Kotalik's salary is not on the Flames salary cap, but the Flames are not keen on a player earning $3 million playing in the American Hockey League and by waiving him and sending him to Abbotsford (AHL) open a potential roster spot.
Should Flames GM Feaster feel the only way to add is by subtracting, then that might be the route they take.
Overall, it is a busy time for the 30 NHL clubs. The Flames, Sabres and Wild are certainly those teams that are at a pivotal time in their season.
With articles featured on NHL.com and CBSsports.com, Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report covering the Nashville Predators and the NHL.