As we get closer and closer to the NHL trade deadline (February 28), we're already seeing a lot of action.
Still, everyone wonders: Who will be buyers and who will be sellers before the deadline?
Most teams near the top of their respective conferences will be buying or standing pat, so this is about all the teams still in the race for the final few spots, or close enough to think they have a chance.
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The Anaheim Ducks have already made their big trade, acquiring Francois Beauchemin from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now, with All-Star goalie Jonas Hiller out indefinitely with dizziness, the Ducks are finding out just how bad backup Curtis McElhinney is.
The Ducks should try to acquire some goaltending help, possibly someone like Johan Hedberg from New Jersey.
The Atlanta Thrashers were one of the best surprises in the NHL this season as recently as January 7, when they lost, 9-3, to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Since then, the Thrashers are 3-10-4 and have fallen four points out of a playoff spot.
The Thrashers are on a tight budget, and rumors are that they won't be in Atlanta much longer, so the Thrashers will be looking to sell.
There are many rumors surrounding young defenseman Zach Bogosian, and although Thrashers GM Rick Dudley admitted to taking offers, he also said, "I’m not actively looking to trade Zach and I don’t expect to trade him.”
With star forward Derek Roy out for the season and the Sabres not playing that well, they're not likely to do much before the deadline.
Tim Connolly, Craig Rivet and Steve Montador are all upcoming unrestricted free agents, so the Sabres could choose to sell them off, but it's more likely they'll make a minor tweak or two.
Less than two months ago, the Calgary Flames were getting ready to rid themselves of almost everyone on the team, and probably the coaching staff, too.
A hot streak can really change things. The Flames are 18-4-5 since December 23, and are playing their best hockey of the season.
At this point, the Flames aren't likely to do much of anything at the deadline.
They don't have much cap space, more than half the team has no-trade clauses and, most of all, GM Jay Feaster won't want to screw up the chemistry the Flames have going.
The Hurricanes won't be overly active, but they should make at least one or two moves.
Defenseman Joni Pitkanen is an upcoming UFA and his name has been mentioned in trade rumors.
The 'Canes also need a shakeup to get them out of their slump (3-5-2 in the last 10 games). They still hold a playoff spot, but need to be better to keep it.
By now, everyone knows the story of the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, then being forced to dismantle a large piece of the roster due to cap restrictions.
Not many people thought they'd be as good as last year, but virtually no one expected the Blackhawks to be outside the playoffs, looking in.
The Hawks need to make a move, but can't add without subtracting salary, so expect them to trade roster players for roster players.
It's hard to say with the Stars, because they've had a good season so far, but they've fallen lately.
The Stars are on a tight budget while they wait for a new owner to take over, and they might not have the money available to add to the team.
Brad Richards is their highest-profile upcoming UFA, and if the Stars can't make any progress in contract negotiations, it might be worth shopping him now.
If the Stars think they can still make the playoffs, they'll probably add a defenseman.
The Panthers are seven points out of a playoff spot and have a lot of upcoming free agents, including Tomas Vokoun, Bryan McCabe and Cory Stillman.
The fire sale should start soon, but apparently star forward Stephen Weiss will not be part of it.
Expect to see several Panthers shipped out soon.
The Kings have an abundance of prospects, draft picks and cap space—all the makings of a deadline-buyer.
They've been rumored to have interest in Marian Gaborik (won't happen), Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla (won't happen) and, recently, in a blockbuster deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
Denver Post blogger Adrian Dater suggested, "(Paul) Stastny, TJ Galiardi and maybe a pick/another player to Los Angeles for Jack Johnson, Jonathan Bernier and Jarret Stoll," as a possibility, but stressed that it was not a substantiated rumor.
Either way, the Kings will certainly be looking to add, and Wayne Simmonds could be on the way out as part of the package to acquire a big name.
The Wild are normally a pretty quiet team around the trade deadline, but this season could be a bit different.
With captain Mikko Koivu out indefinitely with a broken finger, the Wild are rumored to be looking to add a center—possibly Jason Arnott, Tim Connolly or Rob Niedermayer.
Then again, the Wild could do what they usually do, and just go with the roster they have now.
The Canadiens have some long-term injured-reserve cap space due to the season-ending injuries to Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov.
They're definitely looking to add size up front, and are rumored to have significant interest in Dustin Penner of the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canadiens need some size up front badly, as demonstrated by recent games against Calgary and Boston, and Penner would help them a lot.
They're also rumored to be interested in Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles.
The Predators have been rumored to have interest in adding another forward, such as Andrei Kostitsyn or Jason Arnott, but nothing is close to done.
There have also been reports that the Preds are shopping star defenseman Ryan Suter, but it doesn't make any sense.
Suter has another year on his contract—at a very reasonable $3.5 million—and is part of the core in Nashville.
If they don't add a forward, they probably won't do much.
The New York Rangers have enough cap space to make a substantial move, and it's likely that they'll be active buyers at the deadline.
Right now, the Rangers aren't quite on a level to be confident in a best-of-seven against the Flyers or Bruins, but they could be with some trades.
Look for the Rangers to try to add a puck-moving defenseman (e.g. John-Michael Liles) and possibly some scoring help up front.
If the Stars do take offers on Brad Richards, the Rangers are very interested, and Richards would reportedly like to go to the Rangers.
Already one of the most active GMs, Toronto's Brian Burke is looking for a top-line center.
It was rumored to be Brad Richards, but Richards told a source that he wanted to remain with the Stars, but would also be interested in the Lightning, Rangers and possibly Hurricanes.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun said, “When asked about Toronto, he apparently said nothing, but shook his head.”
Now, it sounds like the Leafs are going after Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny.
Brian Burke is known for blockbuster trades, and after acquiring two first-round draft picks, he might have what he needs to finally land a coveted first-line center.
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