Free agency may be right around the corner, but NHL teams are already wheeling and dealing in hopes of getting a leg up on the competition when July 1st rolls around.
While it may seem silly to be trading now when so many free agents will be available, many NHL teams have already been trading and signing players ahead of the imminent start of one of the biggest few days on the NHL calendar.
There has certainly been no shortage of deals this year, with teams trading left and right for players to try to reshape their rosters before the start of next season.
So in the midst of all this activity, here are the rumors of seven teams who could be making a deal before the start of free agency.
As if the Jeff Carter deal wasn't enough, the Columbus Blue Jackets are reportedly out shopping for Edmonton Oilers' forward Ales Hemsky.
Hemsky was a very popular rumor around last season's trade deadline, and with his hefty $4.1 million cap hit, it's pretty safe to say the Oilers wouldn't mind trading him away to keep their own salary situation under control.
No details on a potential deal have yet been released, but Hemsky has two more years left on his contract, so this deal could happen either before or after the July 1 start of free agency.
Update: The Blue Jackets have dealt for the rights to James Wisnewski from the Montreal Canadiens, continuing with their spending spree.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a pretty solid roster already, however they're the current frontrunners to sign one of the biggest free agents on the market right now: Jaromir Jagr.
A deal for Jagr could close as early as today, meaning the Penguins might have to deal a few more players off to stay below the salary cap.
The Pens still have eight free-agent forwards including names like Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot, so the Pens could be looking to trade the rights to some of these guys before Friday's start to free agency.
In Talbot's case this could become a reality.
The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Penguins are in the process of working out a deal that would send the bargaining rights to the Leafs before Talbot will walk away an unrestricted free agent.
Update: NHL.com is now reporting that the deal has gone through and the negotiating rights to Max Talbot now belong to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon has his team in full-blown overhaul mode, starting with some enormous moves at the NHL draft to not only acquire several first-round picks, but pick up some proven veteran talent.
On the NHL Draft floor, Tallon traded for Brian Campbell and the rights to Tomas Kopecky, the latter of which Tallon managed to sign to a four-year deal.
And by the looks of things he isn't done yet.
The Panthers do have big-name goaltender Tomas Vokoun still in their grasp, and unless they re-sign him, Vokoun will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Rumors have been running amok as to where Vokoun would sign now that he can get out of Florida, but the Panthers might ship him away before he can run. With the number of teams in need of a good starting goaltender for next season, you can bet they'd probably get a pretty nice deal for him.
That or the Cats could re-sign their goaltender with a nice contract. The Miami Herald reports Dale Tallon's biggest mission at hand is to now lock down their franchise goaltender for another few years, and hopefully the money he can offer and the recent roster moves to show a commitment to winning will be enough to keep him around.
However, only time will tell if this sudden overhaul will be enough to pull the Florida Panthers out of the depths of the Eastern Conference standings and propel them to their first playoff berth in over a decade.
The Flyers have been another big player in the trade market so far, trading away team captain Mike Richards and star-center Jeff Carter, while also dealing for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov.
And something else tells me they're not done yet either.
The Flyers are yet to sign Finnish left-winger Ville Leino to a new contract, making him a pretty hotly pursued commodity according to Dustin Leed at TheFourthPeriod.
Reportedly, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Colordao Avalanche, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings have all expressed interest in him.
While it appears as though he's headed for free agency, Leino could be moved away to one of these teams before the free agency window opens if the Flyers can't work out a deal and don't want to lose him for nothing.
It's also being reported that the Flyers have been using defenseman Matt Carle as trade bait as well, who has a cap hit of just under $3.5 million and one year left on his contract.
Chicago made the playoffs by the good graces of a Dallas Stars loss on the final day of the season, and needless to say they're not exactly the happiest with that.
They've already traded away Brian Campbell, Troy Brouwer, and the rights to Tomas Kopecky, and need to bring in some talent to fill those roles.
The good news is they've finally managed to clear some room with which to work under the cap limit.
The bad news is they've still got some big guys set to go into free agency, as names like Fernando Pisani, Viktor Stalberg, and Michael Frolik all remain without a contract.
The Hawks could be looking to land some support for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and they're reportedly using defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson as trade bait.
Last year was a nightmare that the young Colorado Avalanche squad would love to forget.
This year they've got a new core of players, a new starting goaltender, and some new young blood in the lineup, as well as one of the top picks from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Gabriel Landeskog, who could be NHL ready by the start of the upcoming season.
With the retirement of Adam Foote and the trading of John Michael-Liles, the Avalanche are now in need of some veteran leadership, and they could deal away some of that abundance of young talent for the rights to a proven player at really any position.
The Avalanche are in no way under threat of the salary cap, in fact they actually need to spend in order to make the CBA-agreed salary floor.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if they made a few deals over the next few days to acquire the rights to a few big soon-to-be free agents and then signed them to good contracts with the money they have to burn.
He might have won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, but Tomas Kaberle is back to his old self when it comes to contract negotiations, as the two parties cannot agree on a deal.
As a result, the Boston Globe is reporting the Bruins have thrown his bargaining rights on the market.
It's not hard to argue that Kaberle, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, is not exactly worth the $4.25 million in cap hit he took up between both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Bruins last season.
However, the Globe does believe that Kaberle could be traded and signed by a team like the Detroit Red Wings, who get the best out of veteran players like Kaberle, for a contract of around $3.5 million per year.
I think one thing can be guaranteed on this next contract though... after the headaches he gave Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs, it won't have a no-trade clause.