This has certainly been a fascinating few days leading up to the NHL's trade deadline. In years past, the overwhelming majority of late-February deals have been teams doing one of two things: dumping salary as the season goes down the drain, or looking to rent a player for a stretch run. This year's deals have included more players that will impact their new homes after this season than in recent memory.
What further clouds the trade rumors are teams like Toronto, that have already dumped considerable salary but are claiming to be buyers and are pushing hard to be a player in the Eastern Conference postseason picture.
Meanwhile, veterans like Niklas Hagman and Sheldon Souray are being put on waivers, making each a relatively affordable buy for teams intrigued by adding a piece at a discount. (Note: Souray has cleared waivers and remains in the AHL.)
So as we enter the home stretch, let's look at the best-case-scenario deal for every team in the league.
The Ducks are presently sitting in a five-team logjam tied for seventh in the Western Conference and have won six of their last ten, but their last three contests have ended with Anaheim on the wrong side of the ledger. They're getting outshot and outscored this year, and could use a defenseman to add depth and quality to their blue line.
They have already added Jarkko Ruutu and Francois Beauchemin, but might look younger.
Atlanta might not be actively shopping Bogosian, but he qould be a very attractive partner for Cam Fowler for the next decade in Anaheim.
The Thrashers have already added Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart in a deal with Boston that sent Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. They have also committed an uncharacteristic amount of years and dollars to defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, and are reportedly close to locking up Captain Andrew Ladd as well.
Adding 27-year-old center Weiss to skate between Wheeler and Ladd would give the Thrashers a strong top line now and for the next few seasons. After trading away prospects to add players off Chicago's roster last summer, the Thrashers might be able to consider moving an NHL player (Bogosian) and prospects/picks to get Weiss.
After adding Tomas Kaberle to their roster, the Bruins are suddenly loaded with defensemen. And, considering their want/need to re-sign Kaberle after this season, clearing both cap and roster space makes sense.
Looking at the players on the Boston roster, it's hard to pick out a defenseman to move. However, if forced to pick one to bring back the best return in a trade, it might be Andrew Ference. Both Ference and Steven Kampfer have two more years on their deals, but Ference is roughly $1.4M more expensive. Yet at $2.25M per, Ference could be a popular player if made available.
While health has been the biggest issue in Buffalo, two of their four defensemen have made minimal impact on the offensive end. Liles is having a solid season, and Colorado is clearly in...can we call it rebuilding mode?
A couple of prospects or decent picks might get Liles to Buffalo, and add another scoring threat (and better overall defenseman) to the Sabres' blue line.
Pop Quiz: What is the one thing, other than winning the Stanley Cup, that Jarome Iginla has not done in his NHL career?
Answer: Played with a legit center.
They're pushing hard to maintain their playoff position since switching GMs and have moved from the Sellers to Buyers side of the trade rumors.
With a number of pieces that could be at least intriguing to Dallas, and the cap space to make a splash, the Flames might be able to rent the superstar and give Iginla a shot at winning it all.
Carolina is clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference right now despite ranking near the bottom of the NHL in goals against (3.00/gm). They have all the cap space in the world to make a major move and the Sens are making wholesale changes right now. Phillips has been on the block for weeks and could be had for mid-level prospects.
It appears that the Blackhawks are finally getting healthy and establishing a rotation, with rookie Nick Leddy clearly establishing himself as a top-five defenseman; he has been paired with Duncan Keith for the last couple weeks and has been more than adequate.
With the Hawks starting to cut their rotation down, they are wasting money on players at the bottom of the roster. Nick Boynton shouldn't see action in another game this year, and could be had for a bag of pucks at this point.
They've already swapped goaltenders, sending Craig Anderson to Ottawa for Brian Elliott. Then they shocked the hockey world by trading Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, thought to be two of their young, core players to St. Louis.
Rumors have names like Liles and Stastny floating now, so who knows that happens in Denver.
Columbus sits four points out of the Western Conference playoffs, and could use another strong center. If the Sabres start selling, Connolly could become a candidate to raise the level of talent with Rick Nash. Considering they haven't recovered from losing Derick Brassard, a center might be the perfect piece for the Jackets.
The situation in Dallas took a fairly shocking turn when they moved LW James Neal to Pittsburgh on Monday. While the trade certainly helps bolster the blue line with the Stars, it leaves a big hole in the forward rotation.
Penner's on the market, and the rebuilding Oilers could be convinced to move him for prospects or picks. The asking price has been heavy, but if the Stars are making a last-ditch run to win while they still have Brad Richards, Penner would be a great addition.
Jimmy Howard has struggled enough at times this year that the Wings signed Evgeni Nabokov out of Europe. When Nabokov was claimed off waivers, the Wings were left looking for another option.
If Dale Tallon is burning it down in Florida, Vokoun is an expensive, and popular, commodity. If the Wings find a way to fit him under the cap, he would be a great add for a Stanley Cup run in Detroit.
The Oilers are looking to build around their young stars, and have some very appealing players that are on the market right now. Between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky (pictured), the Oilers could bring a healthy number of prospects or picks into the fold before the deadline.
The Panthers have some veterans in the final year of contracts that could be key pieces on other teams. Names like Bryan McCabe, Tomas Vokoun, Darcy Hordichuk, Chris Higgins, Radek Dvorak and Cory Stillman will be unrestricted free agents and the Panthers aren't likely to bring any of them back. If Dale Tallon can get anything of value for them before the deadline, he'll save his owner money and add pieces for the future.
Tallon already surprised by moving Michael Frolik to Chicago, so anything can happen with the guys on the Florida roster.
The Kings are desperate to add a forward and the hottest rumors out of LA are that Hemsky is at the top of their list. The big question is whether or not the Oilers price will stay too high for the Kings to pull the trigger.
With news on Monday that Mikko Koivu will be lost for some times with a hand injury, and the Wild in the thick of the playoff chase in the Western Conference, Minnesota is likely looking for a rental at center with postseason experience to fill the void left by their injured captain.
Arnott? Are so...
Montreal needs scoring, and Simmonds brings the physical approach to the game that it's going to take to get out of the Eastern Conference this year. The price for the Kings' forward might be heavy, but the Habs might be willing to pull the trigger considering Simmonds' age and salary. He would be a solid fit in Montreal.
Nashville trading picks for Mike Fisher shows they're in it to win it this year, and Setoguchi could be the an ideal buy-low proposition for the Preds.
The Devils continue to be in a terribly tough predicament. They are looking at a summer in which Zach Parise, one of their core players, is a restricted free agent, but they only have somewhere between $8-10M to spend on 5-7 players for next season.
There are a number of veterans they'll try to sell, but there isn't likely big market for players not performing, so how the Devils make it happen this summer is going to be more intriguing than the debacle surrounding Ilya Kovalchuk.
There have been whispers that Stastny could be available in Denver. And, frankly, after dealing Stewart and Shattenkirk, I'll believe anything in Denver at this point.
The hang-up on moving Stastny is his contract; he's got three years at $6.6M left on his current deal. But for a team that's struggled to score, adding a savvy veteran center to take pressure off John Tavarez makes sense. Add to that the Isles available cap space, and this could be a nice marriage.
The Rangers are hanging on in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they could use a more active veteran defenseman.
While it isn't likely the Flames are still shopping Regehr, a package centering around underwhelming prospect Michael Del Zotto might at least intrigue Calgary into considering a move. The Rangers could really use a player like Regehr.
The salary dump in Ottawa is in full swing, and it appears their goal is to have as little left from this year's roster as possible moving forward. It's been a disappointing year in Ottawa, and the white flag is waving for everyone to see.
They're the best team in the Eastern Conference and have limited cap space after adding Kris Versteeg to the mix. It's hard to see where they could/would upgrade before the deadline.
They're leading their division despite ranking sixth in the Western Conference in both goals for and against right now. It's hard to see another deadline spending spree like the Coyotes had last year while under NHL control, and their ownership situation is still not settled.
Truthfully, the Penguins just need to get healthy. They've got an All Star team on IR right now, and have somehow kept their heads above water while waiting for little-know players like Sidney Crosby to come back.
In the wake of the deal to add winger James Neal from Dallas, the Pens could certainly entertain the idea of a center that's capable of being a shut-down guy in the playoffs, which Bolland certainly proved to be last year with Chicago.
It's doubtful that the Blackhawks are moving Bolland, who's become red-hot lately, but he would certainly be a solid fit as a second or third line center in Pittsburgh.
What can the Sharks do? They're hugging the cap while clinging to fourth place in the Western Conference and have an aging lineup that hasn't seen the Finals yet.
They surprised the world by trading their captain to Tampa and then adding two legit young talents in Stewart and Shattenkirk from Colorado.
The Blues have a lot of paper coming off the books after this year and have added some nice young pieces to play in front of Jarslav Halak. They're already better than they were on Friday morning, so where they go from here is anyone's guess. They might be done adding.
Tampa has tried with Dan Ellis, and it didn't work.
Tampa has tried with Dwayne Roloson, and the results have been mixed.
But with such a potent lineup, it's clearly the year for Steve Yzerman and the Lightning to make their move to win it all. By dealing for Blues captain Eric Brewer they improved their blue line. Now adding a solid goalie makes sense as the next step.
The fire sale is in full swing....
Until Brian Burke decides to buy. He's added some nice prospects and a handful of draft picks that could make him a player for almost anyone. Burke has said he wants to add a defenseman, but he might want a center. We won't know what Burke will do until 3:01 pm ET on Feb. 28.
The Canucks continue to hang out in first place in the Western Conference, but injuries have hammered their blue line all year and continue to take players off the ice. The trouble for the Canucks is simple: They have no cap space and are already spending LTIR dollars to put enough bodies on the ice to play.
If the Canucks do something, it will be adding another team doctor.
Any of a number of defensemen would work here, but McCabe might be the best fit and, most importantly, on a team that's looking to move. Between McCabe and Ottawa's Chris Phillips, the Caps could have their pick but should act fast if they're thinking about addressing their blue line because defensemen are going fast.