We're now less than a week from the NHL trade deadline and the rumors are continuing to fly fast and furious around some big names.
Some of the bigger names have already been dealt, but that doesn't mean there is a lack of quality players who can and might be dealt on or before February 28. If anything, the trades to this point should be a reminder that anyone can be traded in the new NHL. Who would've thought Erik Johnson or James Neal would've been traded last week, let alone last year?
So with that in mind, here are the top players who are still available and who could be had for the right price during the next few days. As you'll see, you've probably heard some of these names before and you've definitely heard them in the last few days.
Here are the 20 best available players on the market.
Kuba is getting older, but he still shows flashes of being a nice puck-moving defenseman who can play the point on the power play. I'm not sure if he can be a power-play quarterback on an average team, but he's better when he doesn't have to be the guy and he can be a secondary piece on a good team.
So, of course, the Rangers want him to run the power play.
It's hard to believe, but Klesla is the longest-tenured Blue Jacket (even longer than Rick Nash) and he was the team's first-ever draft pick back in 2000. And while he's never lived up to the potential of being taken No. 4 overall, he's had a nice career as a defenseman in Columbus.
You haven't heard much about him in terms of trade rumors, but Montreal is rumored to be interested in landing another defenseman and Klesla would definitely fill a need. In fact, there was a report Montreal was looking at Klesla as a possible target.
He's a much better fit as a third or fourth defenseman than a first or a second.
Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet and sportsnet.ca in Canada is reporting Zherdev is one of a few players who were put on waivers. That made it clear that the Flyers don't want him around, if the last few months weren't enough evidence that they didn't want him.
There was a report earlier this week that six teams were interested in Zherdev, so putting him on waivers is an interesting move. But still, for all his problems and inconsistency, scouts will see his talent and someone will give him another chance, just like another player on this list.
Dvorak has never been flashy nor has he blown people away with his stats, save for the year-and-a-half he was part of the "Czech Posse" in New York with Petr Nedved and Jan Hlavic. But Dvorak is what is he is at this point in his career: a character guy in the room and a valuable veteran to have who can contribute on a second or third line.
That's why he keeps getting chances.
Cory Stillman is an interesting case because he could be a consolation prize for a lot of teams looking for offensive help.
Stillman is versatile (he can play either center or the wing), he has Stanley Cup Finals experience and he still could provide some offensive pop in a secondary role. He's not the top-line scorer he might've been earlier in his career, but he could still be an effective player in the right role for a contender.
Connolly has the talent to be a good play-making center (when he's not injured or possibly getting into fights at Buffalo nightclubs), so he's always kind of been a frustrating player.
Yet the Buffalo News reported yesterday the Capitals and Penguins are interested in Connolly, who would slide in as a play-making second-line center in both scenarios. And in reality, that's the best scenario for Connolly, a team that he can slide in on and play around talented wingers so he can just distribute the puck.
David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period brought up the possibility of Huselius being a target of the Canadiens (as he did with Klesla), but it's interesting to consider. Huselius is another one of those guys who has a boatload of talent and has shown he can be a talented player, but he's been crushed by the lack of continuity and the expectations of his contract in Columbus.
Huselius still has the potential to be an impact player in the right situation, and he can be a steal for the right price.
The Rangers reportedly have interest in Neil, which doesn't make a ton of sense considering the Rangers already have two players like Neil on the roster (could you imagine Sean Avery, Brandon Prust and Neil on the ice at the same time?).
But Neil does bring a specific skill to a team, more than just his pugilistic and pest-like qualities. He's a gritty player who goes to the net. He could be a Tomas Holmstrom-like player on the power play and be a nice fit on a third line. Of course, his fate will be determined by the powers that be inside the Senators organization.
Simmonds has become an integral part of the Kings' young core, but his name is on this list because he keeps popping up in trade packages to try and bring a top forward to California. He was mentioned in the rumored deals with Calgary for Jarome Iginla, and now he's been mentioned in the rumored Edmonton deals for Ales Hemsky.
He's a great fit as a third-liner, although last year's playoffs proved he can be an offensive force. But with the Kings marking Brayden Schenn as untouchable and Andrei Loktionov probably getting the same fate, Simmonds is the most valuable asset.
Vokoun has become the most attractive goaltender available (he might also be the only goaltender available right now), but his contract issues as an unrestricted free agent make him a tough sell.
The lack of interest would also be a problem, with Philadelphia and Washington perhaps being the only teams who could go after a goaltender at the deadline. So the question with Vokoun might not be his talent (because he is a talented goaltender), but rather will there be any interest in him by Monday?
If you've followed the last couple of weeks, I haven't exactly given a shining endorsement of Kovalev as a trade asset. But for whatever reason, teams are still interested in him and they still want to make him a part of their stretch run.
The talent isn't as glaring as it once was, but it's still there. And if you can keep him motivated and interested, he could be a steal for a late-round pick or a middle-of-the-road prospect. And for some teams, he's a better option than currently on the roster.
Weiss is interesting because while teams would probably love to have a playmaking center who's relatively young on their roster, reportedly those same teams are balking at Weiss' cap hit, saying it's too much.
For what he's done in the league, the $3.1 million is probably a little much for his history. But for a team that desperately needs a top center and could take anything as an upgrade, it's not that big of an investment. If he was an unrestricted free agent, he would probably be getting more attention. But Weiss' future will depend on what the Panthers deem a strong offer for him and what teams will want to bite on that salary.
The Devils are in an unenviable position. They're not in the playoffs, but they're red-hot and closing in on the last spots in the Eastern Conference. That leads to a tough decision: Do they trade Jason Arnott, who has a no-trade clause and is an unrestricted free agent, or do they keep him and try to make a remarkable postseason run.
Arnott is a power forward who's getting older, but a team looking for a second-line center with some offensive push would love to get him. Washington keeps coming up as a possible destination, but the next week will determine what the Devils do.
Penner is attracting a lot of teams because of his ability to drive to the net and his offensive upside as a power forward. Despite his cap hit, he's garnering a lot more interest for the Oilers than Sheldon Souray and he's easily one of the two best trade assets the Oilers have.
Toronto had been reported to be interested, but Damien Cox of the Toronto Star tweeted that's not the case. Still, a physical player like Penner would be a great fit in Montreal, but his cap hit and what the Oilers will demand in return will dictate where he goes, if he goes at all.
McCabe is a useful player both as a puck-moving defenseman and as a power-play weapon, which leads to the well-reported interest from the Rangers in McCabe. He's definitely a power-play weapon with a great shot, but I'm not sure he's a true quarterback who can pass the puck and be a facilitator.
He's more of what Zdeno Chara is in that he's a puck-moving two-way defenseman who can be a threat on offense, but he's more of a shooter than a passer. Anyone who thinks he can be that type of player is mistaken.
But after watching the Rangers' power play, he's still an upgrade.
I was debating whether to put Stastny or Joni Pitkanen in this spot, but since the Pitkanen trade talks have cooled down and Pitkanen's father didn't just blast his son's organization, Stastny takes the spot.
He's a better Stephen Weiss, a play-making center who can play either of the top two lines but is more of a passer than a scorer, although he does have that capability. If the last week has proven anything, it's that the Avs are not afraid at all to move the roster, despite what their former Hall of Fame centers might feel about it.
The Kings have been sweet on Hemsky for a while now, the same way the Kings were sweet on Brad Richards, Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla. So that tells you how desperate the Kings are for a forward. No other team has been mentioned as publicly as the Kings, but you get the feeling other teams are looking heavily at Hemsky.
If he can stay healthy and if he gets his linemates involved, Hemsky has the potential to be one of the most dynamic forwards in the league. He's on a hot streak right now, as are the Oilers, so if they're looking to sell high on Hemsky, now might be the time.
With Tomas Kaberle off the market, this is now the premier puck-mover available. He can be the quarterback on the power play that a team desperately needs. The beginning of the season showed how good he can be when he's rolling.
He is somewhat of a liability defensively, but a team that desperately wants or needs him in their lineup might be willing to look past that to bring him on board. But for a marginal team trying to make the playoffs, the cap hit and his style of play might be too much of a risk. A team trying to make a splash and be a contender might be different.
Phillips is the best defenseman available because of his skill-set as a defensive defenseman who's a great leader and a strong character guy, as well as a minutes eater and a penalty killer. He has a lot of teams trying to prod the Senators into trading him.
The problem is Phillips wants to be in Ottawa and the Senators either don't know what they want to do with him or they're trying to wait it out for the best deal. All this while talking to the Phillips camp about a possible contract extension.
The Richards saga continues in Dallas, with Richards injured and the Stars now in a free-fall and media members all around the hockey world debating whether or not the Stars should trade him. There are plenty of reasons why the Stars would keep him, considering they're still very much alive in the playoff race in the uber-tight West.
But he's also the best trade asset in the league and the most valuable. And, according to reports, there are already a few teams that are salivating at the chance to acquire Richards. The Stars will have to make a decision on what they want to do with him before Monday, but the options are there.