With the 2019-20 NHL season quickly approaching the quarter mark, teams are taking an opportunity to assess where they stand, what they need and what they can afford to part with.
While the trade deadline is still three months away, there are plenty of teams who are performing either above or below expectations, which could prompt them to be proactive by acquiring some pieces or potentially trading away players who aren't in their long-term plans.
Here are some of the top names rumored to be on the trade block, along with analysis regarding what the immediate future holds for them and their teams.
Forward Kevin Fiala has struggled to live up to his status as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, but the 23-year-old possesses some untapped potential that could make him a hot commodity on the trade market.
According to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, the Minnesota Wild have received plenty of interest in Fiala lately, and the Boston Bruins are known to have checked in on him in the past when he was a member of the Nashville Predators.
After Fiala set career highs with 23 goals and 48 points in 2017-18, the Preds traded him to Minnesota in exchange for veteran forward Mikael Granlund.
Fiala finished with seven points in 19 games for the Wild last season, and in 12 games so far this season, he has three goals and three assists for six points. Despite his offensive upside, Fiala has been a healthy scratch on a couple of occasions this season as well.
That could make him expendable, but the fact that he is young, talented and making an affordable $3 million annually through next season before becoming a restricted free agent means his price tag on the trade market may be high.
While Boston tops the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division, it severely lacks secondary scoring behind David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. While that trio has combined for 76 points so far this season, no other Bruins forward has more than seven points.
Fiala could provide the spark the Bruins' second line needs, but if it comes down to parting with a first-round pick or more in order to get him, Boston may be better off looking elsewhere.
With the Ottawa Senators hovering near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, it may not be long before they start going into sell mode.
If that happens, 27-year-old forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau may be the player who nets them the biggest return on the trade market.
According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, an anonymous NHL general manager believes the Sens could potentially get a haul of a first-round pick and a prospect in exchange for Pageau once the deadline rolls around.
Pageau is on pace for a career year with eight goals and four assists for 12 points through 17 games. To this point, his best season was in 2015-16 when he set career highs with 19 goals and 43 points.
While Pageau is one of Ottawa's top offensive threats, he can become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season, which means the Senators would be wise to trade him and get something in return if they are unable or unwilling to re-sign him.
If a team trades for Pageau, it would be paying for fairly modest production, as he tends to hover around 30 points and the low double digits in goals. There could be more to his game, though, if he goes to a team that can surround him with more talent than the Senators can.
Whether the Senators can truly get a first-rounder for Pageau likely depends on if he can keep up his current production.
If that happens, trading Pageau seems like a no-brainer for Ottawa, as netting another first-round pick would go a long way toward accelerating the rebuilding process.
Since getting off to a red-hot start this season, the Buffalo Sabres have cooled considerably and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Buffalo has the longest active playoff drought in the NHL at eight seasons, which suggests general manager Jason Botterill may have a sense of urgency to make a move and find a way to get the Sabres out of their current slump.
According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun (h/t Dave Stevenson of Puck Prose), the expectation is that the Sabres will soon attempt to trade a defenseman. That is because they will have a major surplus when veterans Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella return from injury.
Even without them, the Sabres are stacked on the blue line with Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Colin Miller, Henri Jokiharju, Jake McCabe and Lawrence Pilut.
Of the defensemen the Sabres would realistically consider trading, Ristolainen might net the biggest return, but finding a team to take the three years and over $16 million remaining on his contract could be difficult.
Seeing as Dahlin, Montour, Miller and Jokiharju are all relatively new to the team, Risto or McCabe are likely the rearguards Buffalo would most like to part with provided no team has interest in Bogosian or Scandella.
The Sabres' dream scenario would likely involve shipping out a defenseman to make room on the blue line, while also getting an impact forward in return.
Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner, Victor Olofsson and Marcus Johansson are a solid top five forwards, but the Sabres need a second-line wing, and moving a defenseman may be the best way to land one.