The season may have only started a week ago, but teams are already thinking of ways they can potentially improve their teams.
The NHL is currently filled with teams that will look to address some of their defensive concerns when the trade deadline approaches in February.
Let's take an early look at nine teams who will be shopping for a defenseman at the deadline and who their ideal target is. I chose the number nine because there are only nine months until the free-agent frenzy of July.
The market for top-notch defenders is really slim pickings, so a player may appear more than once in this slideshow.
Last season, the Bruins made a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs that shipped Tomas Kaberle to Beantown. This move was Boston's attempt of adding an offensive defenseman to help bolster their power play.
However, as many fans learned, the experiment did not pan out, and Kaberle became a free agent and signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this offseason. With that in mind, the Bruins should be in the market for another offensive defenseman come the trade deadline.
Ideal Target: Mike Green
As fellow B/R Featured Columnist Nicholas Goss noted in his piece on the Bruins, the power play for the defending Cup champs is atrocious. The squad has only successfully scored one goal out of 18 attempts.
In an attempt to improve their power play, Nicholas noted the Bruins should seek to acquire Mike Green. Green is an impending RFA and would bring a much needed offensive aspect to the Bruins blue line. His next contract could buyout a year or two of his UFA negotiating years so the Caps may not want to pay that much for Green.
Green has a good shot and is a skilled passer. He would mesh well with Zdeno Chara on the top unit.
The Detroit Red Wings have had a true soldier in Nicklas Lidström. Lidström has patrolled the Red Wings blue line for the last nineteen seasons. It appears that this could be his last year of active duty and that the Wings will seek to replace him.
Ideal Target: Shea Weber
Shea Weber is going to appear on this list more than once, as he is the most sought after defenseman in the NHL.
Weber is a solid defenseman that will put up at least 40 points per season. He is solid in his own zone and has a booming shot. The Wings would love to acquire Weber to take over for Lidström.
The Wings currently have Nicklas Kronwall to negotiate with, but if push came to shove, the Wings would most likely take Weber to replace Lidström.
The Broadway Blueshirts have a very talented but young defensive core. To make matter worse, Marc Staal, their top defenseman, is currently on IR due to post-concussion symptoms. Staal started experiencing headaches and other symptoms during training camp.
He has yet to practice with the team full-time, and it leaves the Rangers in a defensive bind.
Ideal Target: Ryan Suter
The Nashville Predators are going to be in a precarious situation this offseason. With Suter and Pekka Rinne both UFA's, and with Shea Weber an RFA that could go back to arbitration after the salary Doughty scored from the Kings, there may not be enough money to bring everyone back.
The Rangers are a team with forward depth who could compensate the Predators quite handsomely for Suter. Suter is a skilled American defenseman on the rise, and that is the type of player John Tortorella loves.
Suter will most likely be the cheapest out of the three free agents for Nashville, so nothing is set in stone.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made some moves to add offensive depth at forward this offseason. The additions of Tim Connolly, Michael Lombardi and the most recent acquisition of David Steckl complement a talented lineup of Phil Kessel, Mikhail Grabovski, Clake MacArthur and Colby Armstrong.
One would expect Brian Burke to attempt to make a move to add a top-flight defenseman to the Maple Leafs.
Ideal Target: Shea Weber
When Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings were miles apart during contract negotiations, the rumor mill started up and involved deals sending Doughty to Toronto for a package of prospects and star players headed to L.A.
Now that Doughty is off the market, why not target Shea Weber? Weber and Doughty have been highly sought after because of their offensive skill sets. Weber is a talented player that will have many suitors approach him. I really expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to be in the hunt for Shea Weber.
Two of the top defenseman on the Philadelphia Flyers are Kimmo Timmonen and Chris Pronger. They are both ages 36 and 37 respectively.
As you go down the Flyers depth chart, Andrej Meszaros and Braydon Coburn are young defensemen on the rise.
However, the Flyers will be in need of a top defender to take over for veterans Timmonen and Pronger.
Ideal Target: Ryan Suter
Like the Rangers, the Flyers should be a team that will attempt to acquire Suter if he is made available. The Flyers have some forwards they could also part with, if push came to shove, in a deal to acquire Suter.
The Wild really made a major roster change when it came to forwards this offseason. They acquired Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi in a pair of trades with the San Jose Sharks.
They did, however, part with their top defender, Brent Burns. Burns was a top-notch offensive defenseman and a player who could run a power play.
Ideal Target: Mike Green
If the Wild are in a playoff race, look for them to add another defender and a power play quarterback to compliment Heatley and Setoguchi.
Green is a player who would fill the role that Burns occupied last season.
The Coyotes are a team that may be on the verge of relocation at season's end. They are a team with forwards on their roster that many teams may attempt to trade for.
Some of these players include Kyle Turris, Mikkel Bødker, Shane Doan and Ryan Whitney. Chances are these players could be dealt if the price was right.
Ideal Target: Dan Girardi
The New York Rangers should hopefully have Marc Staal back by this point. If the Rangers attempt to trade for Ryan Suter and a forward, Girardi could be the odd man out.
In all likelihood, the Rangers will try to trade for some depth forwards down the stretch. That could include Doan and Whitney. Girardi is a player whose trade value is high and could be dealt.
The St. Louis Blues had a great defensive player in Erik Johnson. However, they shipped him off to Denver, and the Colorado Avalanche sent Chris Stewart back to St. Louis.
They are a team that lacks an offensive defenseman to run their power play.
Ideal Target: Sheldon Souray
Souray is a veteran in the NHL and has a reasonable cap hit. He could be a player that Dallas could move in an attempt to add some draft picks or prospects.
The Stars will be one of the most active teams at the deadline as they look to rebuild some of their major holes.
Souray is also a left-handed shot that could complement the right-hand shots of Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk
The Carolina Hurricanes are a well-rounded team. They have a top 10 goaltender in Cam Ward, a dynamic young forward in captain Eric Staal and a rising star in Jeff Skinner.
What they lack is a bona fide defenseman. Tomas Kaberle was signed in the offseason, but he isn't getting any younger. The Hurricanes would be a complete team if they added a top two-way defender.
Ideal Target: Niklas Kronwall
Niklas Kronwall is a top defender who has learned a lot from the elder Nicklas Lidström. If the Red Wings make a run at a top defender, they could potentially trade Kronwall.
Kronwall is due for a raise when he becomes a UFA this July. He currently makes $3 million but would likely demand more.
The Hurricanes are a team that would be willing to pay Kronwall, as he is one of the league's under-appreciated defenders.
Are there some teams you think will be active at the trade deadline?
For a piece on the latest trade rumors, check out this story by Nicholas Goss
Tom Urtz is an NHL Featured Columnist. For more NHL free-agent news, updates and alerts about players: