The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and the deals have already begun. The first dominoes have fallen in the past couple days with San Jose acquiring Dominic Moore from Tampa Bay and Hal Gill being shipped to Nashville by Montreal.
That takes two of the more coveted veterans off the market, and the scramble for the remaining players available before the Feb. 27 deadline should be intense.
After taking a look at the needs and wants of the teams out West, the focus shifts closer to home for Bruins fans with a breakdown of what is being sought, and who might be being shopped, in the Eastern Conference.
– The Buyers –
Overview — The Bruins were already in the market for depth both up front and on the blue line, but injuries to Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley have made their quest for help a little more urgent.
What they're seeking — Even with the injuries, the Bruins aren't likely to mess with their chemistry and give up any key current pieces or mortgage the future to go after a big name like Rick Nash, but they will look to add someone who can add some quality depth up front and slide into a scoring role while Horton and Peverley our out. They'd also like a veteran for some insurance on the blue line, where Steven Kampfer has struggled as a fill-in this season.
What they have to offer — With the Bruins expecting to pick late in the first round, they could be willing to put that pick into play. They also have plenty of quality prospects to draw upon, though Dougie Hamilton is about as untouchable as they come and it would take quite a return to land Jared Knight or Ryan Spooner.
New York Rangers
Overview — The top team in the East doesn't have a lot of needs, but that hasn't stopped them from being the source of plenty of rumors, including many that have them being the preferred landing spot for Rick Nash.
What they're seeking — The Rangers should just be looking to add some depth for injury insurance and possibly some help for their power play, though the Bruins can attest there's no sure cure for that at the trade deadline. Still, New York may go big and try to land Nash, though it would be risky to mess with the formula that's gotten them to the top of the conference already.
What they have to offer — Like most contenders, it should be picks and prospects on the table, though a player like Nash would require giving up some key pieces from their current roster.
Overview — The Flyers have been hit hard by injuries all season and Ilya Brzgalov hasn't been the answer to their long-standing questions in goal so far, yet Philadelphia still remains in the mix in the East.
What they're seeking — Philadelphia already addressed their biggest need by acquiring defenseman Nicklas Grossman from Dallas for second- and third-round picks. He won't fill the void left by Chris Pronger's injury, but he does help solidify the blue line.
What they have to offer — The Flyers may still make more moves, though they don't have a lot of picks left to offer. They do have depth up front, but despite rumors, James van Riemsdyk isn't likely to move before this deadline.
Overview — The surprise of the East, the Panthers came together quickly after a radical overhaul of the roster this summer and now are trying to hold off Washington for the Southeast Division title.
What they're seeking — There's a good chance that the team that fails to win the Southeast will miss the playoffs entirely, so the Panthers will need to bolster their 22nd-ranked offense (2.47 goals a game).
What they have to offer — The Panthers won't touch stud prospect Jonathan Huberdeau, but they have a deep enough pool of secondary prospects and picks to acquire some more immediate offensive help.
Overview — The Penguins have managed to stay competitive in the tough Atlantic Division despite the absence of Sidney Crosby, largely thanks to the MVP-caliber play of Evgeni Malkin.
What they're seeking — Malkin could still use some more support, especially if Crosby isn't going to make it back this season.
What they have to offer — The Penguins are in a bit of a tough spot with the uncertainty surrounding Crosby. With him, they are a Cup contender needing just some minor tweaks for depth. Without him, are they really close enough to give up any important pieces of their future?
Toronto Maple Leafs
Overview — The Leafs remain in a playoff position, largely because none of the teams below them have made a real run at overtaking them, but Toronto could be vulnerable if Washington or Winnipeg gets hot down the stretch.
What they're seeking — GM Brian Burke vowed to be active before the deadline, but hasn't made any moves yet. He proved capable of yielding quite a profit when selling off assets last year, at least when it came to cashing in on Tomas Kaberle, but how will he fare as a buyer looking for the pieces to solidify the Leafs' hold on a playoff spot?
What they have to offer — Burke has proven over the years there's no draft pick he won't deal away, so expect at least a few entries on the draft board this June to include a "(from Toronto)" notation.
New Jersey Devils
Overview —The Devils have vaulted into buyer's territory with their recent hot streak (12-5-3 since Jan. 1), moving up to fifth place in the East.
What they're seeking — The Devils are dealing with a number of injuries, so adding some depth both up front and on the blue would be the priority.
What they have to offer — New Jersey's rise in the East probably takes Zach Parise off the market, even if the Devils, already dealing with bankruptcy, don't think they can re-sign him.
– The Sellers –
Overview — The Hurricanes don't have much reason to try to keep their current roster together as they will be sitting out the playoffs for the third straight season, but GM Jim Rutherford re-signed defenseman Tim Gleason and is trying to work on a deal with pending free-agent forward Tuomo Ruutu.
What they're seeking — The Hurricanes should be building for the future. They have some parts in place with Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner, but there are still plenty of holes on that roster.
What they have to offer — Even if he doesn't re-sign, Ruutu's trade value took a hit when he suffered an upper-body injury that will keep him out past the deadline. Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek are two of the better veteran defensemen available for rental and should be dealt.
Overview — The Habs are holding on to dreams of a miraculous late run to a playoff spot, but that simply isn't happening. It's time for Montreal to start being realistic and looking to rebuild, and they appear to have realized that with the trade of Hal Gill to Nashville on Friday.
What they're seeking — Montreal, more than anything, needs size and grit, but any semblance of toughness is discouraged in the Bell Centre. They'll likely settle for prospects for picks they can use on more undersized skill guys.
What they have to offer — Even with Gill already gone, Montreal still can get a decent return for Travis Moen, a solid veteran who won a Cup in Anaheim, and possibly defenseman Chris Campoli. They also have to decide what to do with enigmatic forward Andrei Kostityn, who's due to be a UFA this summer. With the dearth of scorers available, he would draw interest if the Habs don't plan on re-signing him.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Overview — It's hard to believe that the Lightning were one win away from the Cup Final last spring. It all fell apart this season, but GM Steve Yzerman would be wise not to overreact and completely tear apart the roster.
What they're seeking — Goaltending is Tampa Bay's biggest need, but that will likely have to wait until the offseason. Yzerman will stockpile assets for the future, such as the second-round pick they got for Dominic Moore on Thursday.
What they have to offer — Defenseman Pavel Kubina is expected to be dealt next, and Ryan Malone's name has surfaced in some rumors despite a no-trade clause. Brett Clark, Matt Gilroy and Adam Hall are UFAs to be and Steve Downie will be an RFA.
Overview — The Sabres had high hopes after their summer spending spree, but Buffalo's revamped roster crashed and burned faster than Ryan Miller hitting the deck after a visit from Milan Lucic.
What they're seeking — A time machine to go back to 2010 to find Miller's game would be ideal, but more realistically, they'll try to cash in on some of their pending UFAs.
What they have to offer — Paul Gaustad might be the most attractive of the rental options. His reputation took a hit when he was singled out for not standing up for Miller against Lucic in Boston, but he does add size and grit and strong work in the faceoff circle that would be valuable in a playoff run.
– Still on Fence –
Overview — The Jets are still in striking distance of a playoff spot, with Friday's win over Boston helping that cause considerably. The prospect of making the playoffs in their first season back in Winnipeg could push them into the buyers category, even though they would appear to have little chance of a lengthy run if they did make the postseason.
What they're seeking — If Blake Wheeler played every game like he did Friday against his old club, the Jets might not need any offensive help, but while he's improved in Winnipeg, Wheeler won't keep the Jets from exploring additional scoring options.
What they have to offer — Winnipeg would be in a prime position to sell with UFAs like Johnny Oduya, Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass likely to draw interest, but they are more apt to stand pat if they remain within striking distance of the playoffs at the deadline.
New York Islanders
Overview — The Islanders should be cashing in on a seller's market, but thus far they seem unwilling to give up hope despite sitting in 13th place in the East.
What they're seeking — They need help just about everywhere, which is what would make holding on to their host of UFAs such a foolish course, though hardly a surprising one for this long-floundering franchise.
What they have to offer — Their best trade chip is goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who could draw a solid return from a team seeking help in net. P.A. Parenteau is scheduled to hit free agency as well and would draw interest with the shortage of scorers, but he's one player the Isles should consider holding on to and re-signing for his chemistry with budding star John Tavares.
Overview — The Capitals have been a disappointment, with even a coaching change failing to snap them out of their lackluster performance this season. Yet they still remain neck and neck with Florida for the Southeast Division lead, so there won't be a fire sale in D.C.
What they're seeking — With Nicklas Backstrom's return from a concussion in question, they could use another playmaker, but there's not many of those available.
What they have to offer — Mike Knuble has been in coach Dale Hunter's doghouse of late, though Caps GM George McPhee has stated he's not interested in trading the veteran.
Overview — The Senators have been another of the more pleasant surprises this season, with their young club developing faster than expected to put Ottawa in a playoff position.
What they're seeking — Ottawa may have already made its key move in acquiring Kyle Turris in December, giving them some needed secondary scoring.
What they have to offer — Ottawa isn't going to abandon their rebuilding project just because things are ahead of schedule, so don't expect the Senators to give up any of their young talent to try to extend a possible playoff run this season.