There are only three weeks until the February 26th NHL trade deadline.
Curtis Joseph and Teemu Selanne have both signed new contracts, and Peter Forsberg does not appear to be far behind.
Once Forsberg puts ink to paper a domino effect will occur as the other playoff bound teams will be forced to match the signing.
Over the next three weeks I will write a series of articles focusing on the players that could be moved before the trade deadline, who is looking, and what those players could fetch in return.
If there’s a player you would like me to specifically address, please make the request in the comment section below.
Below are the top ten players teams would like to acquire at the trade deadline. I do not think all ten will move, but I suspect as many as half of them will change jerseys before February 26th.
Rob Blake (LA)
Just ask the Colorado Avalanche or the Anaheim Ducks—picking up a veteran defencemen at the trade deadline greatly improves a team’s chance of winning a Stanley Cup.
It is not in spite of, but because of Blake’s age that there are several teams interested in his services. Possible destinations include Detroit, New York, Colorado, and San Jose. In return LA would most like to receive a goaltender to fend off the pucks until Bernier is ready to step in, which gives the edge to Detroit.
Dan Boyle (TB)
Tampa’s salary cap is strained under the weight of their top three forwards, but GM Jay Feaster is intent on keeping the rearguard.
I suspect that the Lightning will find a way to retain his services but that will not stop the rumours from flying. The teams that do not sign Blake will use Boyle as their fall-back plan.
Brian Campbell (CAR)
Brian Campbell is a free agent at the end of the year and is demanding big dollars. Darcy Regehr is already shelling out over $7 million per season toward Thomas Vanek, and has lost a number of players to unrestricted free agency.
Giving Brian Campbell a few million dollar raise might be a tough pill to swallow, but it might be something he has to do. If Buffalo does move him, expect them to move him out of the Eastern Conference.
Johan Holmqvist (TB)
It seems silly that a team in such desperate need of goaltending would give up Holmqvist, but Tampa has pegged Ramo as the goalie of the future and needs to sign a veteran goalie in the offseason to guide the rookie.
Holmqvist does not fit that bill; he has proven this season that he is not a legitimate number one starter. Either the Rangers or Sharks could pluck him out of Tampa for cheap to play a back-up role.
Marian Hossa (ATL)
Hossa will not come cheap, and the Thrashers are still in the playoff hunt, but several teams are interested in the pending free agent’s services. The two front-runners appear to be his former Ottawa Senators and the league-leading Detroit Red Wings but several teams have made inquiries.
I suspect both Sens and the Wings to make a big splash at the deadline, and if one team is to pickup either Forsberg or Sundin, expect the other to respond by coaxing Hossa’s out of Atlanta’s grasp at a hefty price.
Olli Jokinen (FLA)
Every season, around this time, the Jokinen rumours start; the Panthers fall out of the playoff race and other GMs come sniffing over the carcass to pick at the remains.Jokinen would like to play for a contender, but the Panthers do not appear to be headed in that direction. However, he is still their leading scorer and best asset.
Calgary is rumoured to be making a strong pitch, but I would be surprised to see the Panthers let him go with two years left on his contract.
Ladislav Nagy (LA)
The Kings had high hopes for 2008" Two promising young goalies were manning the nets. Highly touted prospects were expected to make significant contributions, and veteran defensemen were brought in to anchor the team. And yet, The Kings still failed to make an impact.
Nagy is a free agent at the end of the year and is likely not in the future plans for the Kings. He is almost certain to be shipped out of town. Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Colorado and even Nashville could all come knocking on LA’s door for the winger’s services.
Vaclav Prospal (TB)
While the Lightning scramble to try and find room in the cap to resign Boyle, and search for a goalie, Vaclav Prospal appears to be the odd man out. He is almost certain to move, and either Dallas or Ottawa may try to put together a package that would send a goalie to Tampa and bring Prospal their way.
Mark Recchi (ATL)
Two months ago Recchi had been written off by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Atlanta has breathed new life in to the forward and he’s scoring again. With Pittsburgh covering half his salary he comes with a miniscule cap hit, and he’s won a Stanley Cup, making him very desirable to potential suitors.
Recchi has made it clear he’d like to remain in Atlanta, but the Thrashers are unlikely to resign him next season, making him perfect trade bait. If Atlanta moves Hossa Recchi will not be far behind. Dallas, Anaheim, Calgary, Philly, and Montreal could all make a pitch for the speedy winger.
Mats Sundin (TOR)
Last season Peter Forsberg was traded for Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent, a first round pick and a third round pick. Forsberg and his bum ankle were publicly considering retirement at the end of the season and thus Sundin should hold greater value than Forsberg.
Cliff Fletcher has been brought in to clean house and the fans of the Leafs would be shocked if “Trader Cliff” doesn’t pull off another deal like he got when he acquired Doug Gilmour in 1992, and subsequently traded Gilmour 1997.
Several teams have inquired about Mats but the most likely destinations for the Swede include Vancouver, Calgary, New York, Anaheim, and Pittsburgh.