This is the first in a series of stories as NHL.com looks ahead to the 2011 Trade Deadline, which comes Feb. 28. This week, NHL.com will go division by division to assess each team's potential needs, and who might be the big players as the deadline approaches.
For more than a decade, conversations about what New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello might do leading up to the trade deadline always were focused on which players he might add or which needs he might address to help the franchise prepare for another run at the Stanley Cup.
Lamoriello's team might be mentioned in a lot of articles leading up to the 2011 NHL trade deadline, but he likely will be in a different role. Given New Jersey's place in the League standings, the Devils likely will be one of the teams other clubs look to for players to help fortify a potential Cup bid.
One of those players is veteran center Jason Arnott.
A veteran of more than 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Arnott is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end -- one of the few potential impact players on the New Jersey roster who could be a short-term addition for other clubs.
"It's going to be a little tough," Arnott told the (Newark) Star-Ledger. "I'm sure a lot of talk and rumors will be flying around. I just have to go out and play and see what happens."
His size is another desired trait. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, the 36-year-old has proven his ability to deal with the increased intensity of playoff games and the physical toll a long playoff run demands.
He has 12 goals and 22 points in 49 games for the Devils this season, but it is possible that a move to a contender could help increase his offensive numbers. Arnott has a no-trade clause in his contract, but he has told reporters he would waive it for a move to a contending club.
"I haven't been in this situation before," Arnott told the Star-Ledger. "I think I have to just go out and play. The trade deadline is coming up. I'm sure it will come quicker than normal. I just have to wait and see."
While the Devils played well preceding the All-Star break, New Jersey would need its recent hot streak to reach epic proportions before moving even to the fringes of the postseason discussion. The strong play could make Lamoriello consider keeping the roster intact for next season, but he also could use the pending trade deadline to try and remodel what has been one of the League's most consistent franchises.
"We're feeling better obviously about the way we've been playing," Devils forward Patrick Elias said. "I know everyone thinks we're playing more defensive hockey, but we control the puck a lot more, so it is nice."
If Lamoriello isn't the most-watched general manager in the Atlantic Division as the trade deadline approaches, then Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero might be. Shero has earned a reputation as one of the top GMs in the League at improving his team through trades at the deadline.
He has proven he will make a big splash (adding Marian Hossa in 2008 and Bill Guerin in 2009), but he's also been able to collect some players who helped him beyond the end of that particular season. Pascal Dupuis, Hall Gill and Gary Roberts all were deadline additions who went on to be key figures for the Penguins in future seasons.
"That has been good for us," Shero said. "Our pro scouts have done a real good job of identifying some key components that we may need. You don't always hit on those, but we've had some pretty good fortune with that."
There could be some roadblocks that prohibit Shero from making his typical splash leading up to this trade deadline. The Penguins have little salary-cap space and some future roster uncertainty beyond its core of talented players.
Still, Shero didn't have a lot of cap room last season and managed to add Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold for the stretch run.
"We've got a number of guys up front who are (set to be) unrestricted (free agents)," Shero said Tuesday on NHL Live! "We have our pro meetings in Pittsburgh here the next few days. We'll be talking about that and getting our coaches involved with that."
For an in-depth look at the trade deadline, check out NHL.com's Road to the 2011 Trade Deadline blog