The NHL Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away but the trade market has yet to take off. A big reason for that is due to a limited number of sellers. According to one league source, there are only three true sellers right now in the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers. In the Eastern Conference, teams such as the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning who are eight points out of a playoff spot are believed to be a week away from whether to go into full sell mode, while a team like the Montreal Canadiens who are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games and only seven points out of a playoff spot, could suddenly become a buyer (although unlikely) in a conference with vulnerable teams battling for the No. 7 and No. 8 spots.
Big names surfacing as trade bait include Columbus Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash with the Rangers emerging as an early front runner, while the likes of Teemu Selanne and Ryan Smyth remain wildcards going into Feb. 27.
Here’s a look at the current 14 teams out of the top-8 in each conference and which notable players are in play or could become available when those particular teams become sellers.
No. 9 Washington (28-23-5, 61 pts)
Trade Buzz:Buyer – The Capitals are nothing close to an elite team but they could still emerge as a dangerous team down the stretch if Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green can get healthy. Green is much closer to returning and Washington is working the phones for depth on the blueline and actively seeking a top-6 forward and are believed to have interest in Ales Hemsky. Veteran forward Mike Knuble who has fallen out of favor with head coach Dale Hunter, is a strong possibility to be moved.
No. 10 Winnipeg: (26-25-6, 58 pts)
Trade Buzz: Likely to Stand Pat: – The Jets have looked into Jeff Carter and Antoine Vermette but don’t figure to be big players at the trade deadline, regardless of where they are in the standings. However, the Jets have two players drawing interest around the league in depth forward Kyle Wellwood, and defenseman Johhny Oduya.
Wellwood, 28, an unrestricted free agent at seasons end, has 32 points on the season and carries a $700,000 cap hit. The Jets have opened preliminary contract talks with Wellwood and would like to keep him. Oduya in the last year of his contract is likely to be moved if the Jets fall out of the race. Oduya carries a $3.5 million cap hit.
No. 11 Montreal
(23-24-9, 55 pts)
Trade Buzz: TBD: The Canadiens suffered a tough loss to Carolina Monday night but are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games. It has them in a wait and see situation but word around the league is that GM Pierre Gauthier has been active on the phones looking at potential long-term moves and establishing interest in players like Travis Moen and Hal Gill who could be moved at the deadline.
Regarding potential long-term moves, the Canadiens are said to be showing interest in Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.
Meanwhile forward Travis Moen and defenseman Hal Gill are in high demand. Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Toronto, Detroit and Boston are expressing interest in Moen, while Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago are among the team’s with interest in Gill.
No. 12 Tampa Bay Lightning (24-25-6, 54 pts)
Trade Buzz: Buyer/Seller – The Lightning are in the category where they are believed to be looking at moves for the long-term but also prepared to move some of their impending free agents.
GM Steve Yzerman is eyeing a top-4 defenseman with term on their contract and a potential No. 1 goaltender with prospect Brett Connolly and winger Ryan Malone being dangled in talks.
Malone, 32, is showing signs of possibly being on the downside of his career and is signed through the 2014-2015 season with a cap hit of $4.5 million. He will be tough to move for a significant asset.
Impending free agent Dominic Moore is a good bet to be moved if an extension can’t be worked out and defenseman Pavel Kubina is also a candidate to be moved. Among the early suitors for Moore include Pittsburgh, San Jose, Detroit, and Vancouver, sources say. Moore has a $1.1 million cap hit.
The New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils, and Calgary Flames have been linked to Kubina who carries a $3.85 million cap hit.
No. 13 Buffalo Sabres (24-25-6, 54 pts)
Trade Buzz: Likely sellers: The Buffalo Sabres are among the most disappointing teams in hockey this season. It has them setting up as a likely seller in the next two weeks.
While some feel Ryan Miller wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, he will not be moved at the deadline and Buffalo’s biggest move could center around Derek Roy who is struggling this season with 11 goals and 27 points. Roy is signed through the 2012-2013 season, carrying a $4 million cap hit.
The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Flames, Predators and Kings are all said to have some level of interest in Roy. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun also names the Chicago Blackhawks as a possible suitor.
Meanwhile Sabres center Paul Gaustad is expected to be highly sought after at the deadline. Gaustad, 30, provides size, grit and is excellent in the faceoff circle and is a player that top contenders Detroit and Vancouver are believed to be extremely high on. Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh and the Blues could also all emerge as suitors, among othersÂ for Gaustad who carries a $2.3 million cap hit. Other Sabres likely in play include Brad Boyes and a team could take a chance on him.
No. 14 New York Islanders (23-24-8, 54 pts)
Trade Buzz: Likely Sellers – Several teams are looking for defensive depth and the Islanders could become an attractive trade partner with veterans Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina and Steve Staios scheduled to be unrestricted free agents at seasons end. The two notable names though for the Islanders leading up to the deadline will be goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and winger PA Parenteau.
Parenteau, 28, is second on the Islanders with 49 points and carries just a $1.25 million cap hit. The Islanders are working on signing Parenteau to an extension and a league source says that Parenteau feels a sense of loyalty to the Islanders. For a team that struggles to lure players to Long Island, even if a deal isn’t worked out by Feb. 27th, many around the league believe it’s highly unlikely that the Islanders would move Parenteau.
A handful of teams including the Panthers, Predators and Wild are said to be monitoring Parenteau’s situation. He’s an effective player at even strength and Parenteau has 33 even strength points, which of note would rank 3rd on the Penguins who could use help on the wings. His 49 pts and 16 power play pts would also rank third on the Penguins.
No. 15 Carolina Hurricanes (20-25-11, 51 pts)
Trade Buzz:Seller – The Hurricanes are among the few true sellers in the market and they have one of the prized players on the trade market in Tuomo Ruutu who suffered an upper body injury Monday. The Hurricanes haven’t ruled out resigning Ruutu and according to Bob McKenzie of TSN, a decision on whether to trade or resign Ruutu won’t be made until the end of the week. Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey and Toronto are among 8-10 teams watching the Ruutu situation closely.
The Hurricanes are only interested in moving pending UFA’s and are set to move defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek.
Allen at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, is a strong shot blocker with a team-high 123 blocked shots and will have a number of teams interested. Allen carries a $2.9 million cap hit and has a no trade clause. .
9. Calgary Flames (26-22-8, 60 pts)
Trade Buzz: Buyer? – The Calgary Flames sit just three points out of a playoff spot and GM Jay Feaster figures to be a buyer if his team stays in the race. Calgary ranks 26th in goals per game at 2.34 a game and have looked into Jeff Carter among others.
If the Flames plummet and fall out of the race by Feb 27th, they have several pending UFA’s in Olli Jokinen, Cory Sarich, Scott Hannan, Lee Stempniak and David Moss who will draw interest around the league.
10. Colorado Avalanche (28-25-4, 60 pts)
Trade Buzz: Likely to stand pat – For now the Colorado Avalanche have the look of a team that will stand pat but if they decide to sell, forward David Jones figures to draw some interest, in addition to defenseman Shane O’Brien.
11. Dallas Stars (28-24-3, 59 pts)
Trade Buzz: TBD – The Dallas Stars are a budget team believed to be looking for hockey trades at this point. However, if the Stars stumble in the next 10-12 days, they could move impending free agents F Radek Dvorak, F Adam Burish in addition to defensemen Sheldon Souray and Nicklas Grossman. Grossman according to scouts fits a big need for the Penguins on their bottom pairing. At 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Grossman leads the Stars with 100 blocked shots and is 3rd among Stars blueliners with 92 hits.
The Rangers have interest in Souray.
12. Minnesota Wild (25-22-8, 58 pts)
Trade Buzz: Buyer- GM Chuck Fletcher is actively looking to improve his hockey team with a top priority on bolstering a struggling offensive attack.
13. Anaheim Ducks (22-24-9, 53 pts)
Trade Buzz: Seller- All eyes are on 41 year old Teemu Selanne and whether he will waive his no trade clause. The Ducks are playing excellent hockey under head coach Bruce Boudreau but still trail 8th place by ten points. There’s been whispers that Selanne is at least open to chasing another Stanley Cup, if the Ducks are unable to make up substantial ground in the next week to 10 days. A top suitor for Selanne includes the Detroit Red Wings, while the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins are believed to be monitoring the Selanne situation. Selanne has a no trade clause. Meanwhile, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is a name to keep an eye on and one of the most intriguing blueliners available. Visnovsky carries a $5.6 million cap hit through the 2012-2013 season. Barring a trade offer they can’t refuse, Bobby Ryan is considered unlikely to be moved as Bruce Boudreau isÂ said to loveÂ Ryan.
14. Edmonton Oilers
(22-28-5, 49 pts)
Trade Buzz: Seller- The Oilers are among the most intriguing teams to watch. Will Ryan Smyth waive his no trade clause. If he does, the Rangers, RedÂ Wings, LeafsÂ and Bruins will be in hot pursuit. The other storyline is the market for Ales Hemsky. It has yet to developÂ but figures to improve as the trade deadline inches closer due to a weak winger market. The Oilers though have not ruled out resigning Hemsky but are not interested in going more than three years. Hemsky a UFA at the end of the season is making $4.1 million this season. Kings, Capitals, Panthers, and Predators have been linked to Hemsky in the early stages.Â
Another situation to watch is Sam Gagner as the Oilers have been dangling him in trade talks this season.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-34-6, 38 pts)
Trade Buzz:Seller – A fire sale in Columbus? GM Scott Howson is listening on star forward Rick Nash the team’s franchise player with the Rangers, Kings, Flyers, Sharks, Canucks, Maple Leafs and Bruins all said to have made inquiries.Â The suitors though will be small due to NashÂ having a no trade clause and the Rangers are the early front runner due to young assets, around $7 million in cap space and GM Glen Sather looking to add an impactÂ forwardÂ that many see as the rare missing link onÂ an excellent hockey club. However, a sleeper team is the Philadelphia Flyers sources say.Â Â Nash is signed through the 2017-2018 season and carries a cap hit of $7.8 million. Then there’s Jeff Carter who Howson is looking to move in the worst way. Flames, Jets, Panthers, Kings, Rangers, Canadiens and Leafs all showing levels of interest but no legitimate offers are said to have come Howson’s way right now. Other players of interest for Columbus include forwards Antoine Vermette, Derrick Brassard, and Sammy Pahlsson