The current NHL season is at the quarter-mark, spurring analysts and bloggers to assess the availability of notable players.
In that spirit, here's a look at the players who have most often been mentioned in the trade rumor mill:
Rick Nash and Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets
As the Blue Jackets stumbled through the opening quarter of this season, pundits and bloggers speculated over how long it would take for Nash, the team captain and franchise player, to demand a trade. Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson late last week denied Nash was available, while the right winger's agent claimed his client was determined to help his club turn things around. Carter's name didn't appear in the rumor mill until late last week, when RDS reported he wanted out. Carter, his agent and Howson all vehemently denied the story, but for a couple of days the rumor certainly generated considerable buzz around the league.
Kyle Turris, Phoenix Coyotes
Turris' contract standoff with Coyotes management led to weekly speculation he would be dealt, but GM Don Maloney repeatedly dismissed that possibility, claiming Turris would only play in the NHL this season if he re-signed with the Coyotes. Turris gave up on his holdout earlier this week, agreeing to a two-year, $2.8 million deal, which raised rumors Maloney would deal the 22-year-old now that he's under contract. Until Maloney denies those speculations as strongly as he did the earlier ones, expect Turris' name to remain a fixture in trade gossip.
Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders
For most of the past seven weeks, the Isles had been juggling three goaltenders and showcasing the 36-year-old Nabokov who’s playing in the NHL for the first time since the 2010 Western Conference final. Nabokov carries an affordable $570,000 salary for this season, but also a no-movement clause, which significantly limits potential destinations. A groin injury suffered last week sidelined Nabokov indefinitely and ensured his stay on Long Island a little longer.
Rene Bourque, Calgary Flames
Bourque was mentioned as a trade candidate in late October, as Flames GM Jay Feaster hinted he wouldn't wait for his team to play its way out of another early season slump. A month later, however, Bourque remains a Flame, in part because of his poor production (only seven points in his first 19 games) and his annual average salary of $3.3 million per season, with a modified no-trade clause. Feaster, meanwhile, admitted the difficulty of finding trade partners at this point in the season.
Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs
The sporadic use of Franson by coach Ron Wilson gave rise to blogger-fuelled chatter linking him to the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. GM Brian Burke confessed he'd been “deluged with trade offers” for Franson, but insisted the young blueliner wasn't available. A broken arm requiring surgery sidelined veteran D-man Mike Komisarek for eight weeks and forced Wilson to insert Franson into the lineup. Until something else changes, he won't be leaving Toronto.
Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers
The rise of rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into the Oilers’ first-line center position forced Gagner down to the third line, where he's being used mostly on left wing. On pace for the lowest point production of his career (16) and with the Oilers blueline banged up, Gagner's future in Edmonton is in doubt.
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks
Consensus among pundits and bloggers suggests Schneider will never get his chance to become a full-time starting goalie in Vancouver, where Roberto Luongo has that role locked up for years, so the Canucks will have to trade him. That will happen one day, but barring a total collapse by the Canucks, it'll be in the summer, as the intent is to keep Schneider this season to spell Luongo more frequently.
Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers
As the Flyers opened this season perilously close to the salary cap ceiling once again, rumor-mongers had Hartnell as a lock to be dealt to free up cap space and create room for younger players such as right winger Matt Read and center Sean Couturier. Now playing on the first line and with 19 points in 21 games, Hartnell hasn't been mentioned in trade rumors for weeks.
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets
Barely a month into the season, Kane was rumored to be unhappy in Winnipeg and seeking a trade. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff shot down the rumors and Kane has gone on to become the Jets leading goal-scorer, on pace for a career-best 32-goal performance.
David Krejci, Boston Bruins
During the Bruins’ 3-7-0 lurch through October, Krejci was often mentioned as trade bait if GM Peter Chiarelli decided to shake up his roster. Chiarelli, however, was patient with his defending Cup champions, who've emerged from hibernation in November to rattle off 10 consecutive victories. Krejci has yet to overcome his slow start, though – seven of his nine points came in a three-game stretch in early November. But he's no longer popping up in the rumor mill.
Rumor Focus appears Tuesdays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.