And talks are heating up. As NHL.com's John McGourty reported Saturday from Philadelphia, NHL general managers were stacked up like planes circling the airport to speak with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
Among the teams in Philadelphia were the Thrashers, Stars, Wild and Lightning.
One player apparently off the market now is Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who was injured in a loss to Calgary Saturday night.
The annual trade deadline this season is March 3 at 3 p.m. ET. Keep in mind, the NHL returns from the Olympic break on March 2, so the frenzied nature of the proceedings may seem a little more whacko this time around.
Here is a fast look at who is buying and who is selling after the Leafs and Flames got things rolling in a big way Sunday.
Toronto Maple Leafs -- Brian Burke had cap space and made the first bold move in dealing for Phaneuf, a raw-boned, physical defenseman who would have been deemed untouchable coming into the season. But a slumping Flames squad needed a wakeup call and this one comes in loud and clear. Burke also has restricted free-agent Alexei Ponikarovsky available and after a disappointing loss to Vancouver Saturday night, any and all Leafs may be available. Adding J.S. Giguere is an upgrade and dealing Jason Blake opens up more cap room as well.
Washington Capitals -- The Caps fall into the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" category. Sure, GM George McPhee will listen, all GMs listen, but the Caps' needs are few and far between at this point.
New Jersey Devils -- Perhaps some secondary scoring and some punch from the blue line would entice GM Lou Lamoriello, but the Devils don't have a lot of needs beyond getting everyone healthy.
Buffalo Sabres -- Strong goaltending, check. Stingy defense, check. Perhaps a shot of offense will catch GM Darcy Regier's eye, but remember everyone wants more goals and no one is offering up a scorer at bargain prices these days.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- GM Ray Shero made a couple nice moves at last season's deadline and came away with the Stanley Cup. Can he do it again? There figure to be some enticing pieces out there for Shero to mull over as he plots the course for back-to-back Cups.
Ottawa Senators -- GM Bryan Murray has gone on record as being a buyer, but now the question is how much do you pay? The surging Senators want to add to a good lineup without sacrificing the future. A delicate balance for a GM.
Philadelphia Flyers -- The Flyers seem to have righted their ship after the slow start and always seem to be a favored destination in the rumor mills, but may not have the cap space to make a big splash. Still, lots of GMs are talking to Paul Holmgren.
New York Rangers -- John Tortorella wanted more scoring from players not named Marian Gaborik all season long, but offense continues to be a problem. The Rangers also are among the eight teams fighting for three spots in the East right now, but a five game losing streak may send them into a selling mode.
Florida Panthers -- The Panthers are not faced with the dilemma of last season when they had to decide to trade or keep free-agent-to-be Jay Bouwmeester. It's unlikely that GM Randy Sexton breaks up his young core now.
Montreal Canadiens -- Trade rumors have followed goalie Jaroslav Halak all season. That figures to be the top decision on Bob Gainey's plate, namely, can he get a decent return based on Halak's strong play. Finding a new home for Georges Laraque would seem to be up there too.
Boston Bruins -- The slumping Bruins need a jolt of adrenalin, so figure GM Peter Chiarelli is looking to buy. He has the Maple Leafs' first-round pick in his deck of cards and that could be a very enticing appetizer.
Atlanta Thrashers -- Can you say Ilya Kovalchuk? Every day that goes by without Kovalchuk signing a new contract means GM Don Waddell is listening because he can't afford to let Kovalchuk leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Kovalchuk is the big piece this trade deadline. Duh!
New York Islanders -- After years as sellers, the Islanders figure to add to their roster, perhaps not a superstar like Kovalchuk, but some extra help to ease the pressure on their kids. GM Garth Snow won't sacrifice a young core that is earning strong reviews, but he may add some veteran help. He also has goalie Marty Biron to move.
Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Bolts are on the edge of playoff contention in the East, so they could go either way. Like the teams above them a winning or losing streak can send the club in completely different directions. For the record, Ice Age isn't buying any of the Vinny Lecavalier trade rumors.
Carolina Hurricanes -- Come and get 'em, Part II. GM Jim Rutherford has gone on record that he has experienced players who have won Stanley Cups, so he is open for business. Ray Whitney's name has been linked all over the place and Matt Cullen, Sergei Samsonov, Adam Ward, Joe Corvo haven't been far behind.
Calgary Flames -- Despite his pointed comments that nothing was being planned for the slumping Flames, GM Darryl Sutter reeled in four new players from the Maple Leafs at the cost of Dion Phaneuf, Freddie Sjostrom and Keith Aulie. If this doesn't shake up the Flames, nothing will. And from now on, take any dismissive talk of trades from Sutter with a big grain of salt.
Anaheim Ducks -- Moving J.S. Giguere to the Maple Leafs makes a lot of sense from a cap perspective and clearly makes Jonas Hiller the top guy in goal. This deal doesn't herald a slew of changes, however, since Vesa Toskala will assume the backup role and Hiller will continue as the No. 1. Could more moves be coming? Adding Jason Blake from the Leafs gives Anaheim another veteran forward, so … rumors have been aplenty about Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Saku Koivu, but expect the Ducks to hold on as long as they remain in the playoff hunt.
Edmonton Oilers -- Selling, without question. But the loss of Souray from the list of candidates takes away a deal that was all but assumed to happen in many corners. Still, a very disappointing season in Edmonton will likely see a number of veteran players like Ethan Moreau, Lubomir Visnovsky and others on the move.
San Jose Sharks -- Unless something sweet falls out of the sky, GM Doug Wilson made his big move this summer when he acquired Dany Heatley, so neither a buyer or seller be.
Chicago Blackhawks -- The Blackhawks look like they've got it all going on, and could stand pat, but adding another scorer here to really cement a top-notch lineup will be on GM Stan Bowman's line.
Colorado Avalanche -- The surprising team of the season without question, the Avs should be buyers if some offensive depth comes up.
Vancouver Canucks -- They're buyers, but will be walking the depth aisles since the key cogs already are filled quite nicely.
Phoenix Coyotes -- Like the Avs, the Coyotes' success has been stunning this season, so count GM Don Maloney among the buyers, but he won't break up his young core to get a deal done.
Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings have had an excellent season, but the pack is catching up a bit in the West. This may be a team with enough assets to go out and make a lot of noise. And you just get the feeling the Kings are itching to make a move.
Nashville Predators -- In the playoff hunt for sure, GM David Poile is among the smartest guys around so he won't make sacrifice the future, but may well add some depth.
Detroit Red Wings -- Ken Holland is another GM who knows how to build a winner. He identified this season as a transition year for the Wings to bring in a number of younger players, so he won't be sending any away to make a splash at the deadline.
Dallas Stars -- GM Joe Nieuwendyk's first deadline should be interesting. There has been a lot of talk about goalie Marty Turco's future in Dallas, so that bears watching.
Minnesota Wild -- Still in the hunt for a playoff berth, GM Chuck Fletcher will have to make the call at the deadline as to what category his team falls into. Could go either way.
St. Louis Blues -- On the outside looking in at this point, the Blues could be sellers in regards to veteran players, but it's highly unlikely they will part with any of the young core in a blockbuster.
Columbus Blue Jackets -- Like the Blues, the Blue Jackets could be sellers of veterans, but not likely to send any prospects packing.
The will to win -- At this stage of the season, there are no excuses according to Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
"We're playing desperate hockey," Carlyle said. "When you play desperate, the will to win games is critical because every team is so evenly matched.
"Everybody has got banged-up lineups. Everybody's playing shorthanded.
'Everybody has the condensed schedule because of the Olympics. Everybody's playing lots of hockey. It's about will right now."
Shaking off the rust -- Returning from injury is one thing, rounding back into NHL form is quite another as the Bruins' Milan Lucic and New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus are discovering.
In Boston, Lucic is back after a season of, pardon the expression, bad breaks. First, a broken finger sidelined him for 14 games and then an ankle sprain cost 18 more games.
In New Jersey, Zubrus lost 30 games to a broken kneecap. Rounding back into the form that made them valuable players is taking some time.
"I didn’t expect this injury to be that bad," Lucic told Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald. "I kind of underestimated it a little bit. It’s been tough coming back from an injury like this and I’m just trying my hardest to work my way to be back where I want to be. For me, I just need to keep things simple and get myself maybe more emotionally involved."
"My leg was fine," Zubrus said after he returned in a 3-0 loss to Ottawa Tuesday night. "The result wasn’t, but my leg was fine."
Zubrus played a total of 17 shifts, 12:31 of ice time, which was more than the 10 minutes coach Jacques Lemaire originally slated. Zubrus admitted he was a bit rusty, particularly on his defensive-zone play.
"In our end, I need to be maybe a little quicker on some reads," he said.
“When your timing is off, you’re getting there a little late or you’re not getting there at all,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who could well be speaking for both players.
"That's part of the game that you have to be patient with as a coach because he's hardly played this year. When a guy doesn’t really start the season and he comes in halfway through, it’s a big hurdle to jump over and catch up to the rest of the players in the league."
Well Said I -- "They’ve got a great group of young players. They’ve got the opportunity to be a very good team in the not too distant future."
-- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on the New York Islanders.
Havlat emerges -- Look at Martin Havlat's stats now -- 9 goals, 26 assists in 46 games, and 24 points in 22 games -- and things don't seem nearly as bleak as they did at the start of the season when absolutely nothing was going right for the Minnesota Wild winger. Back then, Havlat, imported by the Wild to replace Marian Gaborik, had 7 goals and 16 assists through the first half of the season.
"That’s in the past. I was still the same player in the beginning of the season that I am now," Havlat told Bruce Brothers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I’m getting much more opportunities on the ice right now in different situations, and that’s the way it is right now.
"It’s been better than at the beginning of the season, for sure," Havlat said. "I’m getting the points now and I wasn’t before. I was getting chances, but I couldn’t score on them. We weren’t playing well as a team, and I wasn’t playing well, either. We’re doing much better right now. We’re still in the hunt for the playoffs, and hopefully we’ll be in the hunt until the end."
Coach Todd Richards talks about the chemistry of the line comprised of Havlat, Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Brodziak, noting that Havlat is the playmaker and Latendresse is the sniper.
"I know that if I give him the puck, he’s not going to be shy to give it back to me," said Latendresse. "The quicker I give it to him, the quicker I’ll get it back in a good situation to shoot.”
Designs on No. 1 -- Jean-Sebastien Giguere still considers himself a No. 1 goalie. He hopes to make it happen with the Toronto Maple Leafs after waiving his no-trade clause and agreeing to Sunday's deal to the Leafs.
Jonas Hiller has staked out the top job for the Ducks and dealing Giguere gives the Ducks some cap relief and Giguere the chance to re-establish his career.
"You've got to be a team guy and you've got to accept your role, and this is the role I've been given right now," Giguere told Eric Stephens of the Orange Country Register prior to the trade. "But it doesn't mean that I'm going to accept it in a way. I'm going to push for more. I'm going to strive for more. I'm not going to give up on wanting to be a No. 1 goalie. This is why I play this game. It's to play. So I'm not going to give up on that.
"I'm not going to expect it to be given to me. You have to work and you've got to earn it. That's what my intentions are.
"Is it going to work? Is it going to happen? I don't know. But I'm going to work on a day-to-day basis to get back to that."
"Right now in the situation we're in, Jonas has played to a level where I think he's earned his opportunity and I'll continue to make that assessment as we go on," Carlyle said. "If he shows any sign of being tired or not sharp, then I've got no problems going to Jiggy."
Well Said II -- "Well, I've been around a long time. I remember Ray Bourque coming into the league as an 18-year-old and he was a force for the Boston Bruins right from his first year. I watched Paul Coffey over his career and I coached him in Philadelphia, and he was great as a teenager. I had Scott Stevens as an 18-year-old in Washington, and going back to when I was a player, I can remember (Orr) as a teenager and no one was as good as him. ... That's a special group of players and Drew belongs in that class."
-- Kings coach Terry Murray on Drew Doughty
Quinn wants tougher team -- Pat Quinn wants a tougher team in Edmonton and we aren't talking about the kind that drops its gloves with frequency. No, Quinn wants a mentally tough team, one that can hold a lead and not make critical mistakes.
"I hate it. I can’t stand it. This should have been a better feeling," Quinn said after the Oilers fell to Vancouver in overtime on Jan. 20. "I’ve said it too many times. It makes me sick to think about how we give games up."
"We have a lot of pride in here," Sam Gagner insists. "Obviously, we don’t like losing. Obviously, you can see we care in here. We want to turn this around. To lose that way is definitely frustrating. Anybody can see it, the last two games. Colorado was embarrassing and we wanted to rebound. We’ve been passionate. We played intense. We feel like the last couple of games we played great.”
"The rumors haven't stopped since last year. I always hear something or somebody tells me something, but I guess it's part of it. It's not something I can control what people write or what they do. But, honestly, it's not a distraction." -- Vincent Lecavalier
"The rumors haven't stopped since last year," Lecavalier said. "I always hear something or somebody tells me something, but I guess it's part of it. It's not something I can control what people write or what they do. But, honestly, it's not a distraction."
Bolts GM Brian Lawton spends more time denying he is looking to trade Lecavalier than he does watching games.
Things were much the same last season, but then, Lecavalier didn't have a no-trade.
"It's a totally different situation than last year," Lecavalier told Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times. "Last year was very nerve-wracking. You're not sure about your future or if you are going somewhere. So, I hear all the stuff, but it's not something I really think about."
Lecavalier said he has not been asked to waive his no-move clause. He loves living in Tampa and wants to remain.
"The only thing I can say is given that Vinny has the no-move clause, if Tampa Bay was working on a deal, my expectation is we would hear from them first," agent Kent Hughes said, adding that has not happened.
Well Said III -- "Early on, I didn’t think so, but when he won three games in a row … I think he’s my cousin now."
-- New Jersey's Martin Brodeur on whether he is related to Ottawa's Mike Brodeur.