The 2013 NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, and while the trades haven’t started heating up yet, the rumor mill is already red hot with activity.
Some of the biggest names in the sport have been rumored to be on the move—star forwards like Phil Kessel, Marian Gaborik and Jarome Iginla. The unpredictability of the lockout-shortened regular season could be foreshadowing an unprecedented, wild trade deadline.
All of the following names have been involved in recent rumors, and if these top-tier stars are dealt, it will alter the landscape of the league as we know it.
The Toronto Maple Leafs went all-in on Phil Kessel when they traded for the forward in 2009, but the deal has not worked out for the franchise like they expected.
While Kessel has performed well over his time in Toronto (17 points in 23 games this season), the right winger isn’t the game changer the organization needed, and he isn’t the leader they had hoped.
According to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, the lack of confidence in Kessel from the new management could result in the 25-year-old star being traded before the deadline:
Meanwhile, rumors persist in Toronto that general manager Dave Nonis may unload Kessel (4-12—16 in his first 22 games) prior to the April 3 trade deadline. In three-plus seasons, the ex-Bruin has convinced many up there that he’s neither a leader nor core performer. Add him to a deep lineup with a coach who emphasizes offense (say, the Blackhawks, or maybe Canucks or Ducks), and he could be that 60-, 70- or even 80-point guy who helps deliver a Stanley Cup.
There are plenty of teams on the cusp of contention in the NHL, and a bona fide second-line scorer like Kessel could be the difference maker on a team that already has depth and leadership.
It’s clear that the Maple Leafs are trying to hit the reset buttons on a few of the franchise’s most costly mistakes, and trading Kessel would be the best-case scenario for all parties involved.
The New York Rangers are currently on the outside of the playoff chase looking in, and the lack of depth at the forward positions continues to hurt the team on a nightly basis.
New York has three of the brightest stars in the NHL—Brad Richards, Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik—but Gaborik’s 14 points in 20 games isn’t enough to warrant his huge paycheck.
Add in the need for more grit and toughness, and Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting the Rangers could consider trading the star winger before the deadline:
Since the Rangers have skill, they'd like to bring in more grit. The talk amongst NHL executives is the Rangers have floated the idea of moving RW Marian Gaborik. He has a cap hit of $7.5 million through 2013-15 and will be a UFA at the end. It's believed the Rangers are sniffing around to see what kind of value he has on the market
In order for New York to make this move, the Rangers would have to be blown off their feet with an offer, but this is not the ideal trade parameters for another team.
With Gaborik already 31 years old and an unrestricted free agent after next season, few teams will be willing to overpay for the veteran.
As the 2013 trade deadline approaches, the biggest name rumored to be on the move is impending free agent Jarome Iginla.
The Calgary Flames right winger and long-time captain is a great locker-room presence and would be a great addition to any team in serious Stanley Cup contention.
While it’s hard to imagine the Flames without Iginla, according to Garrioch, it’s a possibility that continues to gain merit with each passing loss:
If Calgary does put him on the market then the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks are all expected to make a pitch. Iginla would likely be given the right to choose his destination and the Penguins or Bruins would make a lot of sense if he wants the chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Iginla is in his 15th season in the NHL, and while he started the season slow, seven points in his last six games (five goals and two assists) has proven that the veteran isn’t done being a force in the NHL yet.