The typical National Hockey League trade deadline day consists of two groups - buyers and seller. A buyer is generally a team in playoff contention looking to acquire rental players, that is, players that are set to become unrestricted free agents following the conclusion of the season. Sellers are usually teams out of a playoff spot looking to sell of their rentals for futures.
You'll usually have a hockey trade or two in the mix, meaning that two teams swap players with term, and their position in the standings isn't so important.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins are two teams that are primed for playoff contention this year, and some sort of hockey trade may be in the works between the two.
Bruins' assistant general manager has been spotted following the Penguins at multiple games, and there's reason to believe he is monitoring Ian Cole on behalf of the Boston management.
He's been a regular healthy scratch, getting very few games lately, but his pedigree is well-established, and his value to a playoff contending team is undeniable. He was a major factor on the blue line in Pittsburgh's back-to-back Stanley Cup runs.
Jimmy Murphy, a Boston beat reporter, mentioned recently that the two teams have been negotiating a deal for Ian Cole, with the bulk of those talks happening earlier this season. But the trade offer from Pittsburgh wasn't right for Boston. Not yet, anyways.
"A well-placed source told yours truly a few weeks back that Boston and Pittsburgh had discussed Pens defenseman Ian Cole who GM Jim Rutherford has long made clear is available for the right price," said Murphy. "According to this source, the talks stalled when the Penguins asked about defenseman Kevan Miller as a return for Cole. Based on that, at that time at least, Rutherford was looking for a hockey swap as opposed to dumping a roster player for draft picks. None the less, this is at least worth following as the countdown to the deadline is kicking in."
This probably explains why Cole hasn't been traded yet. With the Penguins' defense returning to health, Cole should have been gone by now, but the fact that he is searching to make a hockey deal for a player on an expiring contract has made it hard to find a dance partner on the trade floor.
Rutherford doesn't have to trade Cole. He loves him, but it's clear Mike Sullivan doesn't. It's rather senseless to keep a rental of his value if he's not even going to play. Of course, it's great to have that kind of depth for the playoffs, when injuries and fatigue set in. But the sense is that Rutherford would much rather get assets for an unused roster player.
Boston will continue to circle around this player, and see if a deal can't be made. Pittsburgh may eventually have to concede that they will only get futures for Cole, and when that moment comes, the Bruins will be one of the top contenders for his services.