The Western Conference in the NHL has been dominating the league through the first 25 games, and as the 2013 regular season continues, the trade rumors are starting to heat up.
With huge names like Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller and Anaheim Ducks' Jonas Hiller reportedly on the trade block, the landscape of the NHL could be drastically different if the right teams make trades before the deadline.
Here is all the latest trade buzz from around the league.
Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres and Ryan Miller have not been close on any preliminary contract extension talks, and the team has been considering a possible move involving the impending unrestricted free agent before the trade deadline, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun: "If Miller does decide he wants to move on — and the belief is he wants to go to the Western Conference — a league source says there’s a team that may interest Miller looking for a goalie: The Los Angeles Kings."
At first glance, the idea of Miller going to Los Angeles doesn’t make any sense. The Kings have Jonathan Quick locked up long term at $5.8 million per season and would not look for a short-term replacement that would require such a heavy investment of prospects.
Los Angeles wouldn’t make this move unless Quick’s injured hip is worse than the team initially thought.
Per John Shannon of Sportsnet, Dean Lombardi has said the high-priced Kings goalie will miss at least another month while recovering from the injury. If the prognosis is worse than initially diagnosed or the damage hasn’t healed correctly thus far, trading for Miller would become a viable option for a team looking to win right now.
Los Angeles is already thin in the prospect department, but it could have no choice but to make a blockbuster move if Quick’s injury doesn’t heal in a timely fashion or the team begins to fall out of contention.
Jonas Hiller, G, Anaheim Ducks
Just like Quick in Los Angeles, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is dealing with a hip injury that could keep him sidelined for much longer than expected. With another MRI scheduled for after Thanksgiving, the news could dictate whether the franchise makes a deal for a netminder before the deadline.
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, a possible solution would be Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller:
But if they get news that Rinne will be out even longer, word is the Preds may have to return some phone calls. Heck, even if they get good news, Rinne is still out for at least a few more weeks, so I wonder if they don’t act on a trade anyway. As reported last week, the Preds and Ducks have talked about Jonas Hiller, and Nashville GM David Poile has spoken to other teams as well.
Some teams in the NHL could get away with leaning on the offense for a few weeks while their star goaltender recovered from an injury, but Nashville is not one of those franchises.
The Predators need a consistent goalie behind their defensive-minded attack, and Hiller is the best option on the market. The Ducks have a plethora of talent in net throughout the farm system, and the return would likely be very rich.
Nashville has an incredibly strong farm system of its own, and Anaheim is collecting all the talent it can right now. With both teams filling needs in a possible deal, this trade could actually come to fruition.
Scottie Upshall, RW, Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have become perennial sellers before the trade deadline, and right wing Scottie Upshall could headline yet another mass exodus from the franchise.
According to Garrioch's report, major deals could be coming soon:
After sending Versteeg back to the Hawks, Florida GM Dale Tallon isn’t done. He’d like to move RW Scottie Upshall, LW Tomas Fleischman, RW Brad Boyes, RW Tomas Kopecky, C Marcel Goc and C Shawn Matthias before the deadline.
There is a market for D Dmitry Kulikov with lots of teams interest, but he may bolt for the KHL. Upshall and Fleischmann are immoveable because of their contracts but Tallon may find someone to take Goc, Kulikov and Matthias off their hands before the deadline.
While the contracts of Upshall and Fleischmann are considered immovable, the franchise proved during the Versteeg deal that it would be able to pick up some of the salaries to get them off the books by eating $6 million of his salary, per the report.
That desire to make a series of moves should have other teams around the league jumping to get one of the talented players Florida will be trying to move. The Panthers are already struggling to stay in contention early in the season, and it won’t be long before the fire sale begins.