With Jarome Iginla sent to Pittsburgh, one of the biggest pieces near the trade deadline is off the market. His being moved could be the domino that starts the arms race in earnest as the trade deadline is now less than a week away.
The prices are likely to only get steeper as the April 3 deadline nears, with teams increasingly desperate to add that missing piece. With the Penguins arming up with three big trades, perhaps more general managers feel the pressure to get something done soon.
That desperation could make it awfully attractive for sellers to offer up some higher-impact players in the hopes of a king's ransom in return.
Looking at the names that have been floated around hockey circles as potential trade bait, here are the five bigger names to watch as the trade deadline nears.
1. Jay Bouwmeester
The trading of Iginla signaled the white flag in Calgary, which means Bouwmeester could be next. General manager Jay Feaster has reportedly spoken to Bouwmeester regarding a trade as the big defenseman has a no-trade clause that he would have to waive in order for a deal to get done.
For teams looking for defensive help, Bouwmeester is a sound option that might be worth spending a little extra on. After the return on Iginla, it's pretty safe to assume Feaster is looking for something more for the 29-year-old rearguard.
Bouwmeester plays a ton of minutes, brings some good offense to the table and an ability to play in all situations. He's also more than a rental with another year left on his deal. His $6.68 million cap hit might keep a few teams away. But for others looking to build a stronger playoff contender, it's a price worth paying.
2. Ryan Miller
As the trade winds blow, Miller's name has been mentioned more lately. According to Andy Strickland, Miller has given the Sabres a list of eight teams that he won't accept a trade to, so there could be some options. Additionally, a recent report connected Miller's name with the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, for any team to pry away the face of the Buffalo Sabres, the return would likely have to be enormous for general manager Darcy Regier to let Miller go.
Buffalo's struggles have been sizable this season, and Miller's frustration has become increasingly obvious. Of all the goalies that could be available at the trade deadline, Miller is clearly the best option.
Just three years removed from his Vezina Trophy season, Miller is not putting up the numbers that we're used to seeing, but he doesn't exactly have a lot of help this year. It's possible the 32-year-old netminder would relish an opportunity to help a team compete for a playoff spot.
3. Ryane Clowe
Of the trade bait out there, it seems Clowe is the most likely to be moved. And the interest in the rugged forward is reportedly high. Clowe has a full no-trade clause, so he has some leverage in where he ends up. But the Sharks would likely get a decent return either way.
He's likely a rental wherever he goes as an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but his style and playoff experience are going to be attractive to a lot of contending teams. Clowe hasn't scored a goal yet this season, but the grit that he brings is going to make some teams more than happy to pull the trigger on a deal.
4. Derek Roy
For teams looking to add scoring punch, Roy could be an ideal rental. With his contract up at the end of the season, the undersized centerman is likely to get some rich offers in the off-season. However, if a team has a hole in its top six, getting an experienced producer has to be attractive.
Though his offensive numbers have been trending down a bit in recent years, the 29-year-old Roy has 20 points in 27 games this season. He has some good playoff experience from his days with the Sabres and still has the ability to give opposing teams fits.
Any team interested in Roy will have to decide just how much they'd be willing to pay for a player that would almost certainly be on the club for just a few months. Dallas got a good return for Brenden Morrow and could probably fetch more for Roy. Teams might want to exhibit some caution, but Roy could be a high-risk, high-reward acquisition.
5. Dan Boyle
As Boyle has said before, he doesn't want to be traded, but he's the type of player that could bring in a nice return for San Jose if they dangle him. With teams desperate for defense, Boyle might not be the player he once was but is still extremely effective.
Boyle still has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $6.66 million, so it's a somewhat sizable commitment for a player who will turn 37 after this season. However, his name is on the Stanley Cup, he has been a proven playoff performer and his veteran presence would help any team looking to make a run.
The price is going to be awfully steep to get Boyle out of San Jose. So if a team is serious about bringing in the aging blueliner, they'd better get ready to sacrifice some of its future. To get the rest of this year, the playoffs and next season, it might be well worth the price.