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Monday, February 27, 2012

NHLTrade Rumors Galore - Deadline Edition - Part III

Curtis Sanford - Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins
With the trade deadline upon us, rumors are swirling all over the Internet, and especially on Twitter, as fake insiders try to get the attention of hockey fans by spreading false information. I will try to dissect some of the hottest rumors around and tell you which players are most likely available.

Thursday the first major traded happened when the Columbus Blue Jackets traded disgruntled center Jeff Carter to the goal-starved Los Angeles Kings in exchange for blue liner Jack Johnson and a 1st round draft pick in 2012 or 2013.

You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Below you will find part 3 of 3.

Philadelphia Flyers

In the thick of the playoff race and with Chris Pronger out for the year, the Philadelphia Flyers have already acquired two defensemen in Pavel Kubina from Tampa Bay and Nicklas Grossman from Dallas.

The Flyers are tight against the cap and could be willing to sacrifice winger Jakub Voracek and his $2,250,000 salary in order to land the impact player they need to contend for the Cup. Voracek will be a restricted free agent at season’s end and the Flyers will have problems keeping him. While their main issue is in goal, Ilya Bryzgalov and his hefty contract are not going anywhere, and the team will most likely keep Sergei Bobrovsky as an insurance policy.

Phoenix Coyotes

The league-owned Phoenix Coyotes have caught fire lately going 9-0-1 in their last ten games and, as a result, the team now leads the Pacific Division with 73 points. The Coyotes have already made their big trade, acquiring two-way pivot Antoine Vermette from Columbus for two draft picks. Don't expect another major move because of their budget restrictions, but the acquisition of a depth player is not out of the equation. Veterans UFAs such as Shane Doan, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney, Taylor Pyatt, Michal Rozsival and Adrian Aucoin should finish the season in the desert.

David Jones will certainly draw interest if the Avalanche decides to trade him.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Thanks to Evgeni Malkin‘s great play and Kris Letang‘s return from his concussion, it is safe to say the Pittsburgh Penguins will be buyers at the deadline as GM Ray Shero has always been very active in the weeks leading to the trade freeze. With Sidney Crosby‘s return this season less than certain, one would think the Penguins would look to add a quality forward to its already potent offense, but right now the team is looking to add a back-up goalie to replace under-performing veteran Brent Johnson.

Names like Curtis Sanford and Chris Mason have been mentioned. Also, if David Jones is moved by the Colorado Avalanche, look for the Penguins to push hard to obtain his services.

San Jose Sharks

After acquiring two-way forward Dominic Moore from the Lightning, the San Jose Sharks are looking to bolster their blue line as they need a steady defensive rearguard such as Bryan Allen or Johnny Oduya to improve their dismal penalty kill (77.5% efficiency). Jim Vandermeer and Colin White have been major disappointments and the team has lost confidence in them. The club could also be looking for another top-nine forward to replace Martin Havlat, who has been battling injuries all season.

St. Louis Blues

After signing goalie Brian Elliott to a two-year contract extension, it is clear the St Louis Blues did not see Ben Bishop in their soup and have just traded him to the Ottawa Senators for a 2nd round draft pick in 2013. With the return of Andy McDonald, the Blues received the offensive boost they were looking and should be pretty quiet at the deadline.

However, they could dangle unproductive RFA Chris Stewart for defensive help as the team would like to add a left-handed shooting defender to its already stellar defensive group, especially with Kris Russell suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Eight points out of a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning will obviously be sellers at the deadline, especially since their goalies have been less-than spectacular and their defensive corps has been ravaged by injuries to key players like Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman.

Steve Yzerman knows that last season was a fluke and wants to be patient with his team. He has already traded forward Dominic Moore to the Sharks and defender Pavel Kubina to the Flyers for draft picks. He also traded super-pest Steve Downie to the Avalanche for rearguard Kyle Quincey, who he then immediately shipped to the Red Wings a first round pick in 2012.

Two-way forward Adam Hall is drawing a lot of interest and could be traded next, while blueliners Brett Clark and Matt Gilroy could find a taker looking for depth on the blue line. Ryan Malone is also on the market, but with four more years at $4,500,000 and a full no-movement clause until next season, he’s going nowhere.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumors are swirling about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their talkative GM Brian Burke, who’s reportedly trying to add a big name to his forward group. Obviously, Burke is looking to add size and is interested in James Van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown, Rick Nash, and even Ryan Malone to a lesser extent. The Leafs are willing to part ways with a defender such as Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson or Cody Franson to acquire that big forward.

The team is also considering bringing a goalie like Evgeni Nabokov, Nikolai Khabibulin or Josh Harding into the mix as James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson have been inconsistent this season. UFA center Mikhail Grabovski presents an interesting case as he could become available if Burke decides to unload the shifty Grabovski who is rumored to be looking for a long term deal averaging around five million dollars per year.

Vancouver Canucks

Currently at the top of the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks are open for business and are looking to add an impact player up front after placing defender Keith Ballard on the LTIR and freeing $4.2 millions in cap space. The team is dangling RFA Mason Raymond and prospect Jordan Schroeder as trade baits in order to acquire a bigger fish like Dustin Brown or Steve Ott. The team could also add a depth defenseman as insurance.

Young goaltending stud Corey Schneider is not going anywhere.

Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals blueliners Jeff Schultz and Roman Hamrlik could be traded for offensive help as they have both been in Dale Hunter's doghouse recently. With all-star center Nicklas Backstrom still battling concussion symptoms, the team will certainly consider adding an offensive-minded pivot to play with Alexander Ovechkin as the team is currently counting on unproven youngsters Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault to carry the offensive load at center.

Veteran UFA Mike Knuble could also be sent packing. The 39 year-old winger as been playing on the team's fourth line in the last few weeks.

Winnipeg Jets

With the Winnipeg Jets back in the thick of the playoffs race and fighting for the Southeast Division lead with the Capitals and the Panthers, the team will most likely keep defenseman Johnny Oduya, an impending UFA, instead of trading him for a high draft pick. However, the Jets could try to unload UFA Randy Jones and veteran goalie Chris Mason to teams looking for depth.

RFA Eric Fehr might also on his way out thanks to his poor play since his return from a shoulder injury. If the Jets decide to add a player, they will most likely look for depth players such as the Blue Jackets' Samuel Pahlsson or Habs' Mathieu Darche.

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Follow Fred on Twitter for more updates on the trade deadline and the NHL in general.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)

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