The NHL is nearing its annual trade frenzy as the March 3 deadline is less than 24 hours away. We've run through our recent rumors and a number of sources to compile a list of buyers and sellers. By no means is this list official or exhaustive, but should give a decent idea of which teams could be active on Wednesday.
Open for Business
GM Don Waddell says he plans to be a buyer at the trade deadline. One player who is definitely on the block is Slava Kozlov, who requested a trade due to the lack of playing time in Atlanta. ... Colby Armstrong has received some interest. Waddell may not be willing to part with Armstrong, even though the grinder is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. ... The Thrashers have the most picks -- two of which are first rounders -- heading into the 2010 Entry Draft. They might be able to turn those around for a couple of experienced players.
In the NHL basement for most of the season, the Hurricanes have plenty to offer at this year's deadline. Players believed to be on the block: Rod Brind'Amour, Joe Corvo, Aaron Ward, Ray Whitney. Scott Walker has also been mentioned, but infrequently. Whitney has received the most attention out of this group, and nearly ended up in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. But the 37-year-old winger is looking for a two- to three-year deal, which is scaring off some teams. ... Even though Carolina has four picks in the top 60 of this summer's draft, stockpiling choices and prospects are the only things the rebuilding Hurricanes are looking for in return.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson will almost certainly trade Raffi Torres, who did not agree to a new contract during the Olympic break. Milan Jurcina has attracted interest. Fredrik Modin may be willing to waive a no-trade clause. Veteran defensemen are a hot commodity this time of year, and the Columbus Dispatch suggests Jan Hejda, Fedor Tyutin and Marc Methot could be moved.
The Oilers have been sellers for quite some time. Veterans Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani and Steve Staios are almost certainly gone. Last month, Shawn Horcoff, Robert Nilsson and Lubomir Visnovsky were mentioned as trade bait. Andrew Cogliano's name has surfaced a couple times. Like the Hurricanes, the Oilers are expected to restructure and rebuild their team, so clearing salary for picks and prospects is the most likely scenario.
Reports out of Florida would make you think just about everyone outside of David Booth and Michael Frolik are up for grabs. The Panthers are looking to overhaul its team before next season, with the trade deadline being step one in the process. Among the names being thrown out: Radek Dvorak, Nathan Horton, Kamil Kreps, Rostislav Olesz, Steve Reinprecht, Dennis Seidenberg, Cory Stillman, and Nick Tarnasky. Tomas Vokoun has also been mentioned as a player who could be moved, but the Panthers would need the goaltender to waive his no-trade clause. Logic would suggest Florida is looking for a bona-fide scorer in return, but if the team is about to be imploded, who knows what they're seeking.
Toronto Maple Leafs
GM Brian Burke hasn't finished cleaning house in Toronto. Among the players believed to be headed out: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Wayne Primeau and Garnet Exelby. The Maple Leafs are without a first-, second- or fourth-round pick, so stockpiling draft choices in exchange for these unrestricted free agents may be the most popular move. Toronto is unlikely to get a first-rounder for any of them, though. ... Forget about Tomas Kaberle being traded. The latest report out of Toronto suggested he has not been asked to waive his no-trade clause, and Burke has insisted he will not ask Kaberle to do so. If the defenseman is traded, that move will probably happen around the draft.
Setting Up Shop
Contract talks between the Wild and Marek Zidlicky have hit a snag. While the sides have agreed on a deal, Zidlicky would like a no-trade clause as well. The Wild don't seem willing to budge. Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher stated he considers re-signing the defenseman a top priority. If a deal doesn't get done, though, Zidlicky could be shipped out. This one may come down to the wire. UPDATE: Zidlicky signed a contract extention Tuesday.
We're under the impression Dan Hamhuis will be traded on Wednesday. GM David Poile said he wouldn't trade the defenseman unless he could fill the void with an experienced player. Poile did that by acquiring Denis Grebeshkov. Another player whose contract status may lead to a ticket out of town is Dan Ellis. The Predators re-signed Pekka Rinne during the Olympic break. In both cases, Nashville may be able to get the players inked to new contracts before 3 p.m., but offers from teams desperate for defensive depth may be too good to pass up.
Boston is looking to upgrade its offense before the deadline. They've done lots of tire kicking during the season, but have yet to find a trading partner. Boston has two first-round picks in this year's draft, although GM Peter Chiarelli has indicated he does not plan to trade the choice acquired from Toronto for Phil Kessel, which may end up being a top-five pick. They may be able to move one of their three second-round choices for a Mark Recchi-type player, someone with experience and a goal scoring touch. Anaheim's Teemu Selanne is rumored to be one of their targets.
The Blackhawks are poised to make a run for the Stanley Cup this year, but feel they need an upgrade in net. Chicago could still benefit from dumping a more salary before next season. Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien have been mentioned in previous rumors. The Blackhawks also have an extra second-round pick to offer.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings appear playoff bound and they have plenty of cap space, picks and prospects to work with. GM Dean Lombardi was reportedly vying to land Ilya Kovalchuk, but was not willing to cough up the young NHL players the Thrashers sought in return. Los Angeles also made a pitch to land Carolina's Ray Whitney, but balked at his demand for a three-year contract extension. The Kings have 10 picks in the upcoming draft, including a pair of second-round picks and three third-rounders. Their system is stocked with six first- or second-rounders who have yet to crack the Kings lineup.
Philadelphia always seems to appear as buyers in trade rumors. They need goaltending and defense. Cap space is always an issue. They don't have a 2010 first- or second-round draft pick to trade. They're loaded up front, but some of those players seem untouchable (i.e. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter) and some have massive contracts with no-trade clauses that would need to be waived (i.e. Danny Briere). GM Paul Holmgren will no doubt be searching for ways to improve his team. How he actually does it is the question.
The Coyotes are actually in the playoff race for the first time in eight years, so one would think GM Don Maloney wants to prepare his team for the postseason. On the needs list is a defenseman and a scoring forward for the power play. Maloney said he will not mortgage the team's future for a rental. That may mean Peter Mueller, whose name has appeared in some rumors this season, is off the block. The Coyotes do have an extra first-round pick to work with, but a player worthy of such a prize may not be available.