The calendar has flipped to February, and in the course of this NHL season that means it is trade deadline month. We are now less than two weeks away from deadline day, and hockey's swapping season is likely to pick up in the coming days. Here at NHL.com, we will bring you a daily roundup of reported rumors about who might be available and which teams might be looking to make a move for your lunchtime consumption in Deadline Diner.
COLUMBUS: The Rick Nash Watch continues, but it is important to remember that GM Scott Howson has more players he might be willing to trade than just his star captain. If the Blue Jackets are willing to part ways with Nash, that's a pretty clear indication just about anyone outside of maybe rookies Ryan Johansen and John Moore are available.
"Along with Nash, the Blue Jackets are shopping centers Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette and Sammy Pahlsson, while listening to offers for just about anybody else on the roster, including winger RJ Umberger, center Derick Brassard and goaltender Curtis Sanford," writes Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
Among those players, Pahlsson and Sanford are the only unrestricted free agents. Carter, Umberger and Vermette all have at least three years left on their contracts (Umberger has a four-year deal that hasn't even started yet), while Brassard has two more years on his deal.
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On the Nash front, Portzline writes Columbus wants "at least one young roster player along with top prospects and quality draft picks." He reported Wednesday that, according to a source, Nash's list of teams he'd accept a trade to is less than 10 teams.
Teams that have been reported to be on that list by various outlets to this point include Vancouver, Boston, Los Angeles, the N.Y. Rangers, San Jose and Toronto. Philadelphia and Montreal have also been linked to Nash as reportedly being interested.
DALLAS: The Stars are one of those teams trying to figure out which side of the fence they're on as the trade deadline approaches. Dallas is currently in 11th place and four points back of Phoenix for the final top-eight spot in the Western Conference, but the Stars are also two points from being in 13th -- and they've been trending in the wrong direction of late.
So which side of the fence should GM Joe Nieuwendyk be on in the next week and a half? Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports that Nieuwendyk has already contacted Howson about Nash, but he also may have to consider going in the other direction as well.
"As much as it's Nieuwendyk's job to study bringing in a player like Nash, it's also his job to study the possibility of sending away some of the core players who are a part of the 'Stars Family,'" Heika writes.
"If he hasn't done so already, Nieuwendyk needs to check with Chicago to see if the Blackhawks need a center like Mike Ribeiro to help them bust out of their slump (they do). He should call Washington and Florida to see if the two teams battling for the Southeast Division crown could use what Steve Ott has to offer (they could). He should make a call to every GM in playoff contention to see if they might have interest in a rental defenseman on an expiring contract like Nicklas Grossman or Sheldon Souray (they should)."
While the Stars remain a mystery at this point, there is a strong possibility that Nieuwendyk's roster will look dramatically different at the start of next season. Whether or not the GM makes his alterations now or in the summer is the question. It could be a situation like what GM Dale Tallon went through with Florida where he was a seller at the deadline last season but used the cap flexibility to rebuild his roster in a hurry -- and he still has the spoils of the those deadline trades to foster a consistent winner.
DETROIT: The Red Wings are rolling right now, but GM Ken Holland could still look to tweak his roster a bit in preparation of a long postseason run. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press writes that Holland isn't likely to seek a huge addition like Nash that would cost a lot and dramatically alter the dynamic of the club, but the Wings would like to add a forward and a defenseman to bolster depth.
"The Wings want -- as Holland put it -- someone to complement what is a very deep group up front," St. James writes. "Coach Mike Babcock has lauded the third line numerous times recently, and rookie Cory Emmerton is much improved since October. Prospect Gustav Nyquist could fill in if there are injuries. Holland said he wasn't counting on having Patrick Eaves, who has dealt with concussion-like symptoms after a broken jaw in November.
"On the back end, Ian White has been a great fit in the top four, adding to what already was a very productive group. If anything, the Wings will look for someone gritty for the sixth spot, someone who'll play hard in front of the net and fight if needed. Colorado's Shane O'Brien -- who last season while with Nashville fought Todd Bertuzzi twice in one game -- could be attractive because he's also cheap, but the Avalanche is only a few points out of the playoff race."
She also reports that one big name would be of interest to Detroit -- Anaheim's Teemu Selanne, a veteran who could provide a short-term boost. Given the Ducks' current surge, they aren't likely to be fielding offers for Selanne unless the second half of this current eight-game road trip goes awry.
TAMPA BAY: Fans hoping for action as the trade deadline approaches can take heart -- NHL GMs have another seller to contact. The Lightning have lost four of five games since a 6-0-1 stretch, and as they sit Thursday 10 points shy of a postseason berth, GM Steve Yzerman has decided to turn his attention to the future.
Yzerman took the first step in that direction Wednesday by telling Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times of his intentions.
"We have to look at any opportunity that makes us a stronger organization moving forward based on where we stand today," Yzerman told Cristodero.
"We're not going to just give our guys away. But if there is an opportunity that makes us a better organization, we're going to consider it."
The next step came Thursday morning, when the team announced defenseman Pavel Kubina will be held out of the lineup and has been asked what teams he would agree to join in a trade. Kubina has a limited no-trade clause, but the 34-year-old pending UFA should be a pretty attractive rental for a contending team. He's closing in on 1,000 NHL games and he's won the Stanley Cup.
Yzerman's phone could be pretty busy, but it will depend on the terms of Kubina's NTC and where he is willing to play. Among other potential players that could be available, forward Dominic Moore is also a pending UFA, so expect to see suitors lining up for his services. Moore has had two strong postseasons in a row, so he could be in demand as a third-line center/depth addition up front.
One player who might not be available is forward Ryan Malone, who has three more years left on his contract. Yzerman told reporters Thursday he doesn't expect to add a long-term solution at goaltender until the summer, and Cristodero suggested that is especially true if the Lightning do not want to part with Malone.