The recent trades of Ilya Kovalchuk, Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere set the NHL world abuzz. With the NHL's two-week Winter Olympic "trade freeze" starting Saturday and the trade deadline less than a month away, some NHL general managers could be working the phones to swing more deals before week's end
As the clock ticks down, here's a look at the key players believed available.
Ray Whitney. The Carolina Hurricanes recently had a deal in place to ship Whitney to the Los Angeles Kings until he invoked his no-movement clause because he couldn't get a three-year contract from the Kings. It's thought Whitney would prefer a deal to an Eastern Conference contender like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. But it is possible Whitney might not be dealt until the March 3 deadline, if at all.
Alexei Ponikarovsky. He survived the Leafs' first wave of trades this month, but it's believed he'll be a goner eventually. Ten teams are reportedly interested in him and he's been linked in rumors to Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia and Vancouver. It's thought the asking price could be a second-round pick, but the Leafs could hang onto him until the deadline in hopes of bolstering his trade value.
Marty Turco. It's believed the Dallas Stars won't bother to re-sign Turco, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, leading to speculation he's being shopped. If the Stars should lose ground in the playoff race this week, it might prompt them to move him. But he's played better of late and reports from Dallas suggest the Stars might hang onto him if they're still in the postseason chase.
Sheldon Souray. Although Souray is sidelined until late-March with a hand injury, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini remains hopeful a rival club might be willing to take a chance on him. He's got a no-movement clause but agreed to waive it if Washington, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Dallas or the Rangers expressed interest. His injury history combined with the $5.4 million cap hit over the final two years of his contract could keep him an Oiler for the remainder of this season.
Raffi Torres. He's eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer and the Columbus Blue Jackets aren't expected to be able to retain him. Torres is a good two-way forward with a decent scoring touch, the type of player most playoff contenders value. Recent reports suggest the Jackets intend to hold onto him until after the Olympic break, probably to up his market value as the deadline nears.
Dan Hamhuis. It hasn't been confirmed if the Nashville Predators are shopping him but speculation is growing they might consider moving Hamhuis for a scoring forward. He's slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the cash-strapped Predators probably cannot afford to retain him. They might, however, be willing to consider a trade if a rival team offers up a good scoring forward.
Kari Lehtonen. The one-time Atlanta Thrashers starting goalie has been plagued by injuries, which kept him sidelined for most of this season. Lehtonen is expected to return soon to the lineup, but it's widely believed they'll stick with Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg as their goalie tandem, leaving Lehtonen the odd man out and possibly trade bait.
Marek Svatos. The Avalanche have reportedly shopped Svatos for some time and they might find some takers from teams seeking a scoring winger. He's a former 30-goal scorer, but his stats have been in decline in recent years so any team dealing for him will be gambling on a change of scenery helping him regain his scoring touch.