NHL Trade Rumors: 20 Best Players on the Market at the Deadline

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2012

NHL Trade Rumors: 20 Best Players on the Market at the Deadline

0 of 20

    The NHL trade deadline is coming up fast, and the last few days have provided plenty of action with a few defensemen finding new homes. Teams are beginning to determine if they're a buyer or a seller, and some teams (see: Tampa Bay) are aggressively planning for their future (as many as six picks in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft).

    What follows is a look at 20 players that have a good chance of moving at or before the deadline, according to a nice resource ESPN has put together for the next week.

Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild

1 of 20

    The divorce between the Wild and Zidlicky has reached a critical state, as he's been pulled away from the team until a deal can take place. He's an average defenseman who might, considering the current climate, pull a mid-round pick before the deadline.

Ben Bishop, St. Louis Blues

2 of 20

    Bishop is an intriguing name to watch over the next week. He's one of the top, if not the top goalie prospect in the AHL right now, but he has a concrete ceiling over his head with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott in the Blues roster for the next couple seasons. Even with what could be a really good crop of goalies hitting free agency this summer, he might be a guy a team jumps on before the deadline.

Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders

3 of 20

    Nabokov is probably the best trade chip the Islanders have on their roster that (probably) won't be back next year. With teams in the playoff hunt looking for help between the pipes, he might be a guy that's traded for a surprising package of picks/prospects.

Bryan Allen, Carolina Hurricanes

4 of 20

    If Hal Gill can land a second-round pick and a nice prospect, teams with veteran defensemen are probably making sure they have unlimited plans on their cell phones right now. Allen's a bigger guy who could easily find a new home before the deadline.

Jaroslav Spacek, Carolina Hurricanes

5 of 20

    If Spacek can convince people that he can stay healthy, he might become a very popular name over the coming week. Carolina isn't going to burn the place down because they're having a bad season, but moving Spacek and Allen might bring back decent value in this desperate market.

Chris Campoli, Montreal Canadiens

6 of 20

    The Habs have already traded away Hal Gill, and Campoli is the next defenseman in line to move out the door. He was traded at the deadline last year, to Chicago, but has dealt with a number of injuries this season.

Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens

7 of 20

    This ticking time bomb will almost undoubtedly end with Kostitsyn in a different sweater before the deadline. He hasn't been happy with his ice time and has, in turn, been called out by his coach for not using the ice time he gets effectively.

Johnny Oduya, Winnipeg Jets

8 of 20

    Oduya is another veteran defenseman that could be had in a market that's already shown signs of paying a premium for a rental. The trouble for the Jets is mitigating their proximity to the playoffs with getting good value for a free agent-to-be.

Antoine Vermette, Columbus Blue Jackets

9 of 20

    UPDATE: Vermette was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.

Paul Gaustad, Buffalo Sabres

10 of 20

    Gaustad is a big, rugged center who could be a solid bottom-six guy and penalty killer for a team with Cup aspirations. He's a free agent this summer, but some recent reports indicate the Sabres could try to re-sign him.

Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers

11 of 20

    Hemsky has underwhelmed the Oilers, which hasn't helped either side when considering him sticking around past this summer. After the Dustin Penner debacle in LA, some might question Hemsky's value, but odds are, the building Oilers will get what they can for him.

Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild

12 of 20

    Harding is a fantastic, underrated goalie who will get a lot of attention this summer. The question for Minnesota, as we indicated with the Jets, is when they consider it appropriate to pull the plug and look forward.

Steve Ott, Dallas Stars

13 of 20

    Ott is a name that has surfaced recently and could bring really good value back to Dallas if they move him. He's got time left on his contract (signed thru 2014) and is a big, physical forward.

Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars

14 of 20

    Ribeiro is an expensive contract the Stars would probably like to unload before handing a big raise to Jamie Benn this summer. He's still an effective scorer who has one more year left on his contract, and could be an attractive player for teams in the hunt with cap space.

Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings

15 of 20

    Johnson's the wild card on the market right now. Signed thru 2018, he was seen as part of the core in LA, but is a good enough player that the lowest scoring team in the NHL might have to mortgage that quality to get a big-time forward into the mix to potentially save Dean Lombardi's job.

Luke Schenn, Toronto Maple Leafs

16 of 20

    Schenn is a big, young defenseman who might be a case of needing a change of scenery. The Leafs have a lot of young depth on their blue line and might use Schenn to go get a forward to score from a line that doesn't include Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings

17 of 20

    As we said with Johnson, Bernier is a solid player with a lot of hype surrounding him that might be mortgaged by the Kings to add some (read: any) offensive firepower to their lineup.

Derek Roy, Buffalo Sabres

18 of 20

    Roy isn't a big guy, but with one year left on his deal and a history of posting 60 points while playing a strong two-way game, he's a second line center that could be a big bargaining chip for the Sabres beginning to...rebuild?

Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets

19 of 20

    So there's a young center who's under contract for 10 more years who might give you 65-75 points and 30-plus goals in a season.

    He's also carrying a $5.27 million cap hit and has appeared fragile and disinterested in Columbus this season.

    If Jackets GM Scott Howson decides to burn the roster to the ground and start over, he might be able to get some value back for Carter from a team looking for scoring.

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

20 of 20

    The captain in the city hosting the All-Star Game next year could very well be back in town next year to play in the game representing another franchise. What could be seen as a catastrophic implosion could, if played appropriately, accelerate the rebuild in Columbus.