The Ottawa Senators were expected to be sellers, and they surely got the ball rolling this week when they shipped out veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf, along with forward Nate Thompson, to the Los Angeles Kings in return for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore.
And both teams have already benefited from their additions ahead of the deadline.
We also have to think of all the minor trades that have taken place already - a hint that teams across the National Hockey League are setting the table for a busy trade deadline.
The playoff race in both conferences is quite tight right now - so much, that some clubs have yet to determine if they will be sellers or buyers on Feb. 26. The New York Rangers have made it clear they are looking to trade veteran players, and that includes forward Rick Nash and captain Ryan McDonagh. Both players have been asked to reveal to their general manager Jeff Gorton a list of teams where they would accept a trade to, while contending clubs have been seeking a boost up front, or a way to bolster their back end.
The question remains : how different will this year’s trade deadline be, and are the trade floodgates about to open with just over a week to go ahead to the deadline? On a segment of Insider Trading on TSN on Thursday night, NHL insider Bob McKenzie hinted at more moves coming in the next few days.
"I don’t know if I’ll call them floodgates but let’s be honest there’s trades every year, I mean there’s going to be 20 plus trades probably between now and the deadline, so let’s get the ball rolling here. These trades today, Ottawa getting Pokka, St. Louis getting Soshnikov, they’re not major transactions, but they’re addressing needs for those teams and I’m sure we’ll see lots more deals of that nature between now and the deadline."
There are still plenty of names of the market, with various reports suggesting that Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty, Sens’ Mike Hoffman, Buffalo Sabres’ Evander Kane, Vancouver Canucks’ Thomas Vanek and Detroit Red Wings’ Mike Green could be available.
While McKenzie hints at more minor moves, there is always the chance of a blockbuster that could shock the entire world of hockey. You cannot forget that New York Islanders star John Tavares is an impending unrestricted free agent, still waiting to discuss a contract extension with the Isles, and he may be thinking he is better off testing the market than waiting around in Brooklyn for a better future.
And we can push the envelope even further: who knows about Senators captain Erik Karlsson or Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson. While it would be more than a blockbuster to see these guys on the move, we never know. There are no guarantees around the trade deadline, not with offers being made and Cup contenders pushing for the one player who they think can help them bring home a championship.
We just never know what can take place on Deadline day - and that is part of the beauty of the playoff picture in the NHL.