It's never too early to start thinking about trades. Some teams have struggled to start the 2011-2012 season and will consequently be looking to make a trade at some point in the future.
Often times, teams are forced to deal high-end prospects to return a player who will make a difference down the line.
Here are 10 prospects who could be on the move by the end of the season.
The Buffalo Sabres have made it clear that they are going to be a contender. They are likely going to have to make a move at the deadline to put them over the top. Given the defensive depth in their farm system, trading a guy like Mark Pysyk wouldn't be a huge blow if they were able to get a decent return.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a disastrous start to the 2011-2012 season. The team took a lot of initiative this offseason to go out and get Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, but things haven't exactly worked out.
If the Jackets decide to make another blockbuster move, Ryan Johansen could be the prospect they attempt to move. He has tons of value and Jeff Carter is the franchise No. 1 center that this team has been looking for, so Johansen is a bit more expendable than he was a year ago.
The Los Angeles Kings have an incredibly deep organizational depth chart at the goaltender position. Martin Jones could be the odd man out if the Kings identify a missing piece and need to make a trade at the deadline. L.A. just drafted Chris Gibson, so Jones may be better off elsewhere.
When are the Nashville Predators going to acquire some fire power on offense? If they decide to do so, stud prospect Ryan Ellis is likely to bring in the type of difference-maker the Preds need up front.
Ellis would be a tough prospect to let go of—and I doubt Nashville would do it—but if the right trade came along, it would be tough to pass up.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions are in a bit of a hole in the early going. They haven't been able to match the intensity that they played with during the 2011 NHL playoffs.
A trade could definitely ignite this team, and Ryan Spooner is one of the more expendable prospects who has the talent level to bring back a useful contributor.
Devante Smith-Pelly is an underrated prospect for the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks are undoubtedly going to have to make a move at the deadline in order to have a legitimate shot at a postseason run.
Smith-Pelly appears to be buried behind some more talented prospects in the Ducks' system right now, so he may be a part of a deal.
The New York Rangers will definitely be buyers when the trading deadline rolls around. One prospect that the team may deem expendable is the undersized Ryan Bourque.
The Rangers are loyal to their Northeast-grown prospects, but Bourque is definitely not a stud.
Dustin Jeffrey is a fine center prospect, but it is going to be difficult for him to ever be a top-six contributor on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Don't be surprised if he is thrown into a package at the deadline.
Mattias Ritola is a solid center prospect stuck behind players who are just far more talented than he is. Ritola definitely has some value as a prospect, so I'm sure the Lightning wouldn't hesitate to throw him into a deal at the deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens may have to do something desperate to be a competitive team down the stretch. If that means getting rid of one of their best offensive prospects, then so be it.
The Habs need some help on offense and defense.