With the NHL trade deadline a little less than a month away, the rumor mill is working overtime as teams make their final pitches to potential trade partners.
Although there are unlikely to be any landscape-changing moves before March 2, there are certainly a handful of top-quality players who are reportedly on the block.
Below are updates on three names who may have new homes in a month's time.
Evander Kane's fate in Winnipeg was likely sealed after that whole tracksuit affair and his subsequent self-imposed exile.
The Jets' efforts to move him were dealt a bit of a blow after he went under the knife to have surgery on his shoulder, per TSN's Sara Orlesky:
However, that surgery might not preclude another team from acquiring Kane before the trade deadline. Both Sportsnet's Chris Johnston and ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance reported that the 23-year-old is still drawing interest across the league:
You can understand why now might be the perfect time to work a deal for Kane. The Jets' asking price almost certainly won't be as high as it was pre-injury, and it's not like he won't have plenty of value beyond this year.
Teams willing to be patient with Kane could get a great piece for the future for a relatively reasonable fee.
Zbynek Michalek won't crack anybody's list of the best defensemen in the NHL. For teams hoping to add a little bit of depth, though, he'd be a nice addition before the deadline.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that he's not lacking in potential suitors:
San Jose GM Doug Wilson has been trying to make a deal all season. Since he wasn’t able to make significant changes in the off-season, he’d like to add a blueliner. Sources say he’s held talks with Arizona (don’t call me Phoenix) Coyotes GM Don Maloney about the possibility of acquiring defenceman Zybnek Michalek.
The issue is Wilson isn’t alone on that front with St. Louis, Detroit and Anaheim also making a push for Michalek. The Sharks have been trying to trade winger Tyler Kennedy with no luck.
Michalek has struggled offensively over the last three seasons. He averaged a tad under 23 points a season between 2004-05 and 2011-12. From 2012-13 to now, he has posted a sum total of 20 points.
That's not to say that Michalek wouldn't bring value to a new team. Bleacher Report's Lyle Richardson listed his 10 most underrated players on the trade block. Michalek came in at No. 2.
"Arizona Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek plays a responsible game in his own zone," Richardson wrote. "He's among the Coyotes' leaders in blocked shots. He is a right-handed shot, which is a coveted asset in this season's trade market."
Given the amount of interest in the 32-year-old's services, it's a good bet he'll be out of Arizona by early March.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to trade Cody Franson in the final year of his current deal, the Los Angeles Kings are unlikely to be his new destination.
Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reported that the Kings' front office is a bit wary of surrendering too many pieces for a player who's likely to leave at the end of the season:
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun played the guessing game and speculated that the Maple Leafs could be looking for a second-round pick in addition to a younger player who offers long-term value. He added that the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators are among the parties interested along with the Kings.
Even if Franson is nothing more than a rental player, it's hard seeing him staying in Toronto. According to NHL.com, he ranks 17th among defensemen in points (31) and 12th in assists (25). He would be a great option to help put a playoff contender over the hump.
By trading him now, the Leafs would ensure they pick up one or two nice assets for the future instead of watching him leave for nothing after the season.