The NHL season will come to an end this week, giving way to the whirlwind of rumors and speculation about who will go where.
28 teams have already begun examining their rosters for the 2012-13 season, trying to find the missing pieces that will take them to the next level.
With only a few days left in this season, the next season will get off to a fast start. While free agents need to wait until July 1 to sign with a new team, trades can and will happen at any time.
Many big names will be wearing new sweaters in 2012-13 and bringing their talents to new cities in hopes of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
A few names have already been in the discussion before the season even ends.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jordan Staal had his most productive year yet, recording his first 50-point season in the NHL while playing only 62 games.
Staal seems to be hitting his stride as a professional, but he is still the third-best player in Pittsburgh behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Staal's contract expires after next season, aiding rumors that Stall will be the odd man out for the Penguins as they try to sign stars Crosby and Malkin to long-term deals.
Penguins GM Ray Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it will be difficult to keep all three.
"Common sense, I’d love to keep all three of them. They’re great players. They’re not even in their prime yet. But we’ll have to wait to see. We’ve had these players for a number of years now. We had success for a couple of years now. Went to the finals, won the (Stanley) Cup. But at the same time, there’s a salary cap in place now. And when these guys get into the second and third contracts, you might run into problems trying to keep all three. I’m certainly on record, I’d love to keep all three but in a practical world with a salary cap, that remains to be seen."
If the Penguins move Staal, Carolina remains the front-runner to add the talented forward. Mark Madden of WXDX in Pittsburgh tweeted that Staal has said he would prefer to go to the Hurricanes to play with brother Eric should the Penguins decide to part ways.
The Rick Nash saga is still going on and it seems now more than ever that he will not be returning to Columbus in 2012-13.
It's been a messy situation in Columbus since the Jackets failed to move Nash at the trade deadline.
All indications are that the Blue Jackets are ready to move on without Nash. Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch spoke to another Jackets player who said he has not stayed in contact with Nash over the offseason, something that the player said is not the norm.
Portzline also noted that when Todd Johnson was introduced as full-time head coach, he cited several reasons he was excited to be with Columbus, none of which included the current Jackets captain.
Columbus will want a good return on Nash and it is yet to be seen what other teams are willing to give up to obtain the star.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has already admitted that goaltender Roberto Luongo wants out of Vancouver.
GM Mike Gillis told the Vancouver Sun that Vigneault misspoke, but still said Luongo would accept a trade if it was best suited for the team.
The gold medal winning goaltender still has 10 years and $47 million on his contract, making him a valuable but costly player for teams to look at.
Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman told WDAE in Tampa that he is not interested in trading Luongo—the only real news since the end of Luongo's season.
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