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Stamkos leads seven to watch as trade deadline nears

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

Fans of NHL Trade Deadline Day got an early fix Wednesday after the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers managed to pull off player-for-player trades that could have long-standing impacts for each team.

The blockbuster of the day saw the Predators send defenseman Seth Jones, 21, to the Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen, 23.

The Flyers and Kings completed a big trade earlier in the day, with defenseman Luke Schenn and center Vincent Lecavalier going to the Kings for forward Jordan Weal and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The two trades provided an enticing and early start to the NHL trading season, which won't end until 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 29. So what else could happen between now and the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline? Who else could be on the move?

Here are seven players who could be changing addresses soon:

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

He's the most intriguing trade prospect in a long time, maybe ever. Stamkos, who can be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has said he wants to stay with the Lightning. But the longer he goes without a new contract the better the chance he will be traded. The Lightning can't risk letting Stamkos walk in the offseason without getting anything of value in return.

There are so many variables to Stamkos' situation, particularly because he has a no-trade clause in his current contract.

Do the Lightning want to re-sign him? Can they afford to trade him if they make a push up the standings between now and the deadline? Where would Stamkos want to go? Does he even want to go anywhere in the middle of the season? Are the Toronto Maple Leafs, his hometown team, willing to trade assets for him, or wait until July 1 when all they need to get him is money?

There is more than enough drama in the Stamkos story to keep everyone interested. What makes it even better is where the Lightning will be on trade deadline day: Toronto.

Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has asked the Lightning to trade him, a request agent Allan Walsh made on behalf of his client in November. Walsh went public with the trade request Sunday, a day after Drouin was sent to Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

There are no shortage of teams interested in Drouin. But Yzerman, who already is dealing with the Stamkos situation, has stated he will do what is in the best interest of the Lightning, which could mean refusing to grant Drouin's request.

Drouin is 20 years old and in the second season of his three-year, entry-level contract. The Lightning feel he is a still-developing player who needs time in the AHL because he wasn't getting enough playing time in the NHL. Drouin will play his first AHL game Friday.

Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders

Hamonic has requested a trade for personal reasons that have to do with his family. He is from St. Malo, Manitoba, about an hour drive south from Winnipeg.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said in November, when Hamonic's trade request became public, that he has known about the defenseman's situation for several months. The fact the Islanders haven't traded him yet suggests they haven't found the right partner and terms.

Then again, trading Hamonic can't be easy for Islanders general manager Garth Snow, especially because defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury sustained Dec. 31. The Islanders need Hamonic now more than ever to stay in the race in the Metropolitan Division.

Hamonic is an all-situation defenseman who leads the Islanders in ice time at 23:53 per game and is signed for four more seasons with an extremely reasonable salary cap charge of $3.857 million, according to war-on-ice.com.

Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders

Okposo, a right wing, can become an unrestricted free agent after the season and there have been no signs from him or the Islanders that a new contract is coming.

Okposo, 27, has 10 goals and 31 points in 38 games. He could be a rental player, but because of his age any team that acquires him likely would do so with the intention of signing him.

The Islanders are contending in the Metropolitan Division, so trading Okposo for draft picks and/or prospects doesn't help them now, just as hanging on to him and letting him walk in the offseason doesn't help them in the future.

Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers

Like Predators general manager David Poile had to do with a player from his strong defense corps, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli likely is going to have to part with one of his top young forwards in order to bolster the defense.

Jordan Eberle
Right Wing - EDM
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 17
SOG: 64 | +/-: -11
Eberle, a right wing with a $6 million salary cap charge, could be the leading candidate to go. The Islanders, with Hamonic the return, could be the perfect trading partner, especially because of the Okposo situation.

The Islanders could feel better about moving Okposo in a separate trade if they were to get back a player like Eberle, a right wing who can score and is signed through the 2018-19 season.

Hamonic, or someone like him, could help the Oilers now and for the next several seasons. He also comes with a favorable salary cap charge.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

If Eberle doesn't go, Nugent-Hopkins and his $6 million salary cap charge could be the chip Chiarelli uses to acquire a top defenseman.

With Connor McDavid due back soon and Leon Draisaitl proving he belongs in the NHL, Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, could be seen as expendable.

Keith Yandle, New York Rangers

Yandle can become an unrestricted free agent after the season and it appears his days in New York are numbered as a result. There has been no public talk of contract negotiations and his natural replacement already has made his NHL debut.

Brady Skjei, a left-shot puck-moving defender who can play on the power play, like Yandle, is playing well for Hartford in the American Hockey League. He got a taste of the NHL for two games in December and played well enough to bolster his status as a top prospect. He could be ready for full-time NHL duty.

The Rangers need help up front. They haven't been able to find a consistent top two lines because of inconsistent play from Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. But they can't add much in salary because their cap situation is tight and Yandle is costing them $2.625 million.

Drouin would be a perfect fit and the Rangers and Lightning have engineered a big trade before (Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan). Yandle could help the Lightning's defense and power play, but it would take more than just Yandle for the Rangers to get Drouin.

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