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.
DALLAS: The Stars are one of the teams still trying to determine if they can make the playoffs, or if it is time to look toward the future. GM Joe Nieuwendyk made his first move Thursday, trading defenseman Nicklas Grossman to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second-round pick in June and a third-round choice in 2013.
Nieuwendyk cautioned people from reading too much into the move, though, when he met with reporters Thursday.
"I don't really like the term (sellers), and I know everyone wants to talk about that," he said. "I just think today is an isolated case and it shows that we're going to be active. We're going to look at things that make our hockey club better going forward and if things present themselves that do that, we'll take a strong look at it. But I think it just shows today that this is not an indication that we're going to be sellers. This is an indication that we're going to be active and listen to everybody."
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If Nieuwendyk is not just looking to be an outright seller, he has intriguing prospects to include in a deal for an impact player, as well. Heika pointed out the organizational depth in goal in particular that could be attractive to opposing GMs. Kari Lehtonen is having his second straight solid season in net for the Stars and is just 28 years old, and the Stars have youngsters like Richard Bachman and Jack Campbell behind him.
DETROIT: The Red Wings could be in the market for a depth forward and a depth defenseman to augment their West-leading roster. Ansar Khan of MLive.com took a look at Montreal forward Travis Moen, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, and thinks he could be a solid fit for the Red Wings.
"Coach Mike Babcock might have had Moen in mind when spoke recently about his desire to add a 'heavy winger,'" Khan wrote. "Moen would make the Red Wings harder to play against and help a mediocre penalty kill. He played a key role on Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup-winning club."
Kahn suggests it might cost a second-tier prospect or a second-round pick to land Moen, and given the price San Jose paid for Dominic Moore on Thursday (a 2012 second-round pick while also getting a seventh with Moore), that sounds about right.
N.Y. RANGERS: The Rangers are considered one of the frontrunners in the Rick Nash sweepstakes because they have young assets, salary cap room and possibly the desire to add one more marquee player to make a serious run at the organization's first Stanley Cup in 17 years.
Whether any team is willing to part with a big enough package of players, prospects and picks for Columbus GM Scott Howson to pull the trigger on dealing the face of his franchise still remains to be seen. Larry Brooks of the New York Post ponders this question: Regardless of the cost in terms of assets, is it in the Rangers' best long-term interests to absorb Nash's contract? After this season, Nash will six years left on his contract, with an average annual cap hit of $7.8 million.
"if the Blueshirts were to acquire Nash, they would be complicating their ability to keep the core of the team together over the next three summers when the contracts of 12 important players -- including Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto and Carl Hagelin -- will expire, with most in line for considerable bumps in pay," Brooks writes.
"Forget the cost in assets that would not include Boston College's effectively untouchable Chris Kreider, but almost certainly would feature Brandon Dubinsky, who was the Rangers' best forward in last year's playoff series against the Caps.
SOG: 95 | +/-: 12
Steve Zipay of Newsday also reported that the Rangers and Blue Jackets have continued their discussions about a Nash deal.
If the Rangers are reluctant to include Kreider in the deal, they might have to include more young players currently on the roster than just Dubinsky to entice Howson.
TORONTO: If the Rangers aren't the right fit for Nash, what about the Maple Leafs? Not so fast says James Mirtle of the (Toronto) Globe and Mail.
Mirtle points out that offense has not been a problem for the Leafs this season, adding Nash isn't going to address the team's weaknesses.
"What ails the Leafs is what's ailed them every year since the lockout: They've had below-average goaltending and struggle in their own end," Mirtle writes. "(Nash) is the type of player a contender should be chasing down as its final puzzle piece for a Cup run.
"The Leafs would likely be much better served by adding an elite $7 million player on the blue line, like a Ryan Suter, who can take some of the defensive responsibilities away from (Dion) Phaneuf and bump everyone else down one spot. Add that, add a goalie who can stop more than 91 percent of the pucks he faces, and this is a far stronger team."
WASHINGTON: Capitals GM George McPhee isn't sure exactly what he's going to be able to do as the deadline approaches because of injuries to Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, but he made it clear he's not interested in being a "seller."
The Capitals currently are in ninth place in the East and face a critical four-day stretch with road games at Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina. They also have a disgruntled veteran forward in Mike Knuble, who was scratched the previous three games. McPhee said he's not going anywhere, though.
"He's a great pro, a great guy. We have no interest in trading him -- he hasn't asked for that. We haven't talked to him about it," McPhee told Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.
Green could return as early as this weekend from sports hernia surgery. Backstrom's return date is unknown because of a concussion. With both back in the lineup and healthy, McPhee won't have much wiggle room with the salary cap, but he'll also have a much better team than he does right now.
"We're not interested in moving anybody," McPhee said. "We have a solid team when we get healthy and we'll see how healthy we are 10 days from now and what we can expect from Mike and Nick. Then we'll make decisions based on that, but we're not that interested in moving people out."