As NHL teams move toward the trading deadline, many franchises won't be able to acquire the player they want via trade unless they part with some top prospects.
This is why it is so important to have a good amount of top prospects who you can give up and not decimate your NHL roster by acquiring a star.
Let's look at one prospect each team could dangle as trade bait this season.
The Anaheim Ducks need a lot of help right now, and trading top forward prospect Emerson Etem could be a way to improve the club at the NHL level.
Etem has excelled for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL this season and has a lot of scoring potential.
The Bruins have a lot of depth at center, so if they were willing to make a big-time trade to improve the team for another Stanley Cup run, then Jared Knight could be someone to part with.
However, with the way the Bruins have played recently, they don't need to make any trades any time soon.
Despite making a number of moves this summer, the Buffalo Sabres are not a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season unless they make a trade deadline move to improve the team.
Trading Mark Pysyk could allow them to get a return, and it would not damage their system that much.
Sven Baertschi is a future star and will be a solid playmaker in the NHL someday, but if the Calgary Flames want to contend, they must trade him for NHL-ready talent.
The Flames have a few better prospects than Baerschi, so they can afford to part with him and get an established player in return. Calgary really needs to acquire a defenseman to even sniff the playoffs this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes have really underperformed this season and badly need some more talented defensemen to really contend for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Center prospect Zac Dalpe could be a player used in a trade to help them get a quality blueliner by the trade deadline.
Kyle Beach is a big, physical prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks who could be used in a trade as a potential power forward in the NHL.
Beach is no longer a top three prospect in the Blackhawks' system, but he still has enough talent to be a pretty good pro player.
The Colorado Avalanche have some solid goaltending depth at the NHL level, and their entire organization is pretty well stocked with good goalie prospects.
Sami Aittokallio could be a prospect the team uses to acquire a very good NHL player to continue their construction of a quality roster of young players.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a terrible season thus far and the summer acquisitions of center Jeff Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski have not worked out at all.
The team really needs a top goalie to compete in the future, and with Columbus appearing unwilling to trade star forward Rick Nash for one, prospect Ryan Johansen could be someone they use to improve their goaltending situation.
Jack Campbell is a solid goaltending prospect, but the Dallas Stars have a good chance to be in the playoffs this season and could use the young goalie to improve some weaknesses of the team, such as defensive depth.
The Stars have a number of quality prospects who could be used to make the club a really good team come playoff time.
Trading top prospect Gustav Nyquist would be a bold move for the Detroit Red Wings, but if they want to acquire a star player for a Stanley Cup run this season, the Swedish forward could help them get a good return.
As constructed, the Red Wings probably have enough talent for a Cup run, though, if their best players can remain healthy.
The Edmonton Oilers have cooled off a bit after starting the season so well, and if they want to make a move for a playoff run this year, trading defenseman prospect David Musil could help them do that.
It would be a bit risky to part with Musil so soon, but he could net the Oilers a good return for this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau is one of the Florida Panthers' best prospects, but if they want to make a really deep run in the playoffs, they will need another star player to score goals.
Trading Huberdeau could net the Panthers a massive return in a trade and bring a star defenseman or forward to Florida.
Martin Jones could be the one goaltender the Los Angeles Kings decide to part with in order to improve the club to make a good run at the Pacific Division title this season.
The Kings have many good goaltenders at the NHL and minor league levels, and Martin could find himself on another team soon if the Kings struggle even more this year.
The Minnesota WIld have good organizational depth at the goaltender position, and they would be wise to trade Darcy Kuemper for an NHL-ready defenseman or a good defensive prospect.
The Wild have enough scoring for the playoffs, but they need another defenseman to add depth and skill to their blue line.
The Montreal Canadiens really need some help on offense and defense due to injuries and under-performing players this season, and if they want to make a real playoff push, trading a prospect such as Danny Kristo may be necessary.
The Nashville Predators have to acquire offensive firepower or they have no chance to advance past the second round of the playoffs this season, and trading top prospect Ryan Ellis may be the best way to do that.
Parting with Ellis could be difficult for Nashville, but the team has to acquire a reliable scorer for the playoffs.
Center prospect Adam Henrique could be used in a trade for the New Jersey Devils to acquire a player who can score goals if Zach Parise leaves via free agency next summer.
The team also needs to find a replacement, either short term or long term, for legendary goalie Martin Brodeur.
Nino Niederreiter is a very good left wing prospect for the New York Islanders, but the team really needs help on defense and in goal.
Niederreiter could help the Islanders get a star player in return to help the team assemble a young roster of talent that will compete for the playoffs soon.
Ryan Bourque is not going to be a star player for the New York Rangers, and the team would be best served trading him for depth at either defense or left wing.
The Rangers could be one or two moves from making a big Stanley Cup run this season.
Matt Puempel is a quality forward prospect, but the Ottawa Senators really need some more talent on defense and between the pipes at the NHL level, and parting with a prospect such as Puempel to improve those weaknesses would be a smart move for the team.
The Senators won't compete for the playoffs until they find a reliable goaltender.
Eric Wellwood is a very good forward prospect but with injuries to key defensemen for the Philadelphia Flyers this season, such as captain Chris Pronger, the team should use its offensive depth to acquire a quality defenseman before the deadline.
Wellwood would help the club be able to make a move for a top six defenseman.
The Phoenix Coyotes are currently one point out of a playoff spot and if they want to jump back into the postseason race, they need to make a move for another scorer.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of the few prospects the team has left that could get them a very good NHL player in return.
Dustin Jeffrey will be a good NHL center but with the Pittsburgh Penguins' depth on offense, it will be hard for him to crack the lineup in the near future.
With that said, the team is better off trading him in a package for a proven NHL player if Sidney Crosby is not going to return this season.
Tommy Wingels has not been too impressive this season at either the NHL or AHL level, and the San Jose Sharks would be smart to trade him in a deal involving a defenseman who can contribute to the team's playoff run this year.
The Sharks need more help on the blue line to return to the Western Conference Finals.
The St. Louis Blues have some good organizational depth at forward and despite the fact that Jaden Schwartz will be a fine NHL player someday, the team could use him as a trade chip to acquire a proven NHL star and help their run toward the playoffs this season.
With the Tampa Bay Lightning having good depth at center, including stars Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos, center prospect Mattias Ritola might not get much playing time at the NHL level in the near future.
The team would be better off trading him to help their defensive depth.
It might be too early to part with forward prospect Joe Colborne, but the Toronto Maple Leafs could be one or two smart moves away from making a deep playoff run this season.
Colborne will be a good NHL player, but I doubt he ever becomes a first-line talent.
The Vancouver Canucks have two solid goaltenders at the NHL level in Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, so Eddie Lack is not going to get much playing time with the Canucks anytime soon.
Lack could fetch the Canucks a major NHL player, preferably a power forward, that could help them return to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Washington Capitals would be rolling the dice if they traded Evgeny Kuznetsov at the deadline, but the team really needs defensive help to make a real Stanley Cup run this season.
Kuznetsov has played very well in the KHL this season and would be an attractive prospect to dangle as trade bait.
Mark Scheifele will be a good NHL forward someday but if the Winnipeg Jets want to make a real run at the playoffs this season, which is entirely possible, then parting with a prospect such as Scheifele may be required.
Right now the Jets are only two points out of a playoff spot.