The clock is ticking down on the NHL trade deadlne. Some big names have moved already, and more are expected to switch teams in a busy day before the NHL trade deadline.
Names like Miikka Kiprusoff, Roberto Luongo, Mike Ribeiro and Jason Pominville were still being bandied about as teams swapped bodies and draft picks ahead of the deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
The biggest day for deals, in numbers if not always in quality, is usually deadline day. More than 30 players moved on that day the last two years after peaking at more than 50 in 2010.
Major players came off the market on Tuesday as the Dallas Stars dealt future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr to the Boston Bruins for two prospects and a pick and shipped centre Derek Roy to the Vancouver Canucks for defence prospect Kevin Connauton and a second rounder. The New York Rangers acquired forward Ryane Clowe from San Jose for two second-round picks and a third-round pick.
A quieter deal saw the Montreal Canadiens pick up a potential third-pair defenceman, 28-year-old Davis Drewiske, from the Los Angeles Kings for a fifth round draft pick.
Those moves followed deals in the past 10 days that saw Calgary Flames icon Jarome Iginla, Dallas stalwart Brenden Morrow and San Jose Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray all dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins made a bold statement that they are set on winning a second Stanley Cup in five years, although they no sooner stocked up on talent than superstar Sidney Crosby went down for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken jaw on a freak deflection.
Rivals have reacted with deals of their own to beef up for the post-season, no doubt with more trades still to come.
It makes for nervy times in dressing rooms around the 30-team league, as players wonder if they’ll be the next to change teams.
“It’s a normal thing any year on any team,” said New York Rangers veteran Brad Richards, who was part of a pre-deadline blockbuster deal between Tampa Bay and Dallas in 2008. “The first place team (Pittsburgh) is making more trades than anyone.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing, trade deadlines are always what they are. We’re professionals. We know it’s part of the business. You still come to work every day and battle for your teammates. All that other stuff is way out of our control.”
In Toronto, starting goalie James Reimer is living amid swirling rumours that the Maple Leafs are about to deal with Calgary for 36-year-old Kiprusoff. He ought be used to it, with talk of bringing Luongo in from Vancouver rampant since last summer.
But Reimer called it a “huge distraction” on Tuesday and was glad he didn’t have to play another game until after the deadline.
In Ottawa, no one expects much action, although depth in net suggests the Senators may consider moving goalie Ben Bishop if something attractive comes up. Teams can expand their rosters without penalty after the deadline, so they could as easily elect to keep him.
The Senators are solidly in a playoff position with the team they have, despite missing stars like Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson.
“It’s nicer to be in the position we’re in than being a team that looks to make a lot of changes because things haven’t gone as well,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “We’re in a better position than two or three years ago.
“Everybody knows it’s part of the game and it could happen, but the feeling in this room is no one wants to get moved. As far as if something could happen, we don’t know, but we try not to worry too much.”
Tuesday’s moves also saw power-play specialist Marc-Andre Bergeron dealt by Tampa Bay to the Carolina Hurricanes, who rank last in the league with the man advantage. The Lightning got fourth-liner Adam Hall and a seventh rounder in return.
Players like Ribeiro, Washington’s top centre who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, or Buffalo captain Pominville would be major boosts for playoff-bound teams. But the player who drew a surprising amount of interest considering he has not scored a goal all season is Clowe.
The big winger has just 11 assists in 28 games this season, but has had offensive success in the past. His best season was in 2010-11, when he had 24 goals and 38 points in 75 games.
Even though they are in a playoff position, the Sharks have already dealt Murray for two second rounders and then sent Michal Handzus to Chicago on Monday for a fourth round pick.
The Sabres have already traded rearguards Robin Regehr to Los Angeles and Jordan Leopold to St. Louis and may not be done dealing.
The Flames have shed Iginla and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester (to St. Louis) and more may follow, such as forward Lee Stempniak.
The last-place Florida Panthers may want to make changes, and forward Tomas Fleischmann would attract attention. Filip Kuba may move to a team needing a veteran defenceman.