Keith Yandle, New York Rangers – Just one year after being traded to the big apple, Yandle may be on the move again. The offensive defenseman has been in Coach Alain Vigneault’s doghouse for much of the season and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Since it is unlikely he will re-sign with New York, the team may look to trade him and get something in return. A recent concussion to fellow defenseman and team captain Ryan McDonagh may cause the team to hesitate if the injury will keep him out for an extended period.
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks – Another veteran defenseman on the market is Hamhuis, who recently returned after missing almost 2 months of action with a serious facial injury. The Canucks are trying to make a playoff push, but it seems clear to most that it is time for the team to rebuild. Hamhuis, a reliable top four defenseman, should fetch a nice price from a team looking for blue line help.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton has been able to stockpile a plethora of young, talented forwards due to having the top overall draft pick in four out of the last six years. Even with that talent though, they find themselves near the bottom of the standings once again. 2011’s number one pick has been very productive at the professional level, but may be looking for a new home if the team tries to help their struggling defense. Another team could be willing to part with a top young defenseman to get him.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes – Staal is one of the biggest names that could potentially move in the coming weeks. He has been a potent scorer for much of his career, averaging .86 points per game, but he has been trending down this season at age 31. Carolina’s captain will be a free agent this summer and the team will likely go in a different direction to rebuild the squad. Staal does have a no-trade clause though, so it would have to be a destination that makes sense for him as well before being traded.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – This one may be more of a fantasy hockey GM dream, but there is a possibility that the captain of the reigning Eastern conference champions could be available. The 26 year old offensive juggernaut will be a free agent this summer, and the team has not been able to work out a long term extension. If no deal is in place by the trade deadline, the Lightning will have to consider moving Stamkos to avoid losing him for nothing. Odds are the team will find a way to keep him, but the immense potential trade return could be tempting.