National Hockey League general managers use their down time during All-Star break to assess their own teams and check in with their rival team executives.
Expect to hear lots of rumors during the next few days as a result. But which players could actually move in a trade?
And which players could actually impact the playoff races? Here are 10 players that fall into that category:
Mikhail Grabovski, C, Toronto Maple Leafs: He is the classic example of the sort of supplemental scorer that often hits that market before the trade deadline. He is a good player, but not great. He scored 29 goals last season and has 16 this season. He is steaming toward unrestricted free agency while making $3.1 million this season. Might Toronto turn the page to clear salary cap space for a bigger acquisition? Perhaps.
Nikolai Kulemin, W, Maple Leafs: He could become available as well. He scored 30 goals last season but has just five so far this season. He is headed to restricted free agency after earning $2.2 million this season. Again, is GM Brian Burke willing to continue committing notable cap space to him?
Antoine Vermette, C, Columbus Blue Jackets: He has scored 19 or more goals five times in his career. He is a decent No. 2 center on a bad team or a No. 3 center for a decent team. He has struggled this season, but his offensive malaise is understandable with Columbus tanking so badly. Vermette has three years left on his contract paying him $3.75 million per year, so teams lacking cap space will have to maneuver to make a trade fit.
Andrei Kostitsyn, W, Montreal Canadiens: Here is another classic supplemental scorer. He has delivered three seasons of 20 or more goals. He is on pace for another 20-goal finish this season. He is headed to unrestricted free agency after earning $3.25 million this season. Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier is on very thin ice, so it will be interesting to see if he would deal this player for a draft or try to extend him with a new deal.
Martin Havlat, W, San Jose Sharks: He suffered a torn hamstring tendon hopping over the boards for a line change. Prior to that, he scored just two goals in his first 26 games for San Jose. Would the Sharks try to dump his salary to clear cap space for another move? If so, teams willing to take on the remaining three years (at $5 million per) could get a Top Six forward without giving up much.
Mason Raymond, W, Vancouver Canucks: The National Post notes that in his last 171 games since Jan. 1, 2010 -- including the playoffs – he has scored 33 goals. He is a former 25-goal scorer with great speed, but he has not made an impact in Vancouver this season after returning from a broken bone in his back. He makes 2.6 million this season and will be restricted free agent after the season. All of that makes him an obvious trade target.
Antero Niittymaki, GT, Sharks: He cleared waivers, so his fate could remains unresolved. He carries a $800,000 cost, so any team claiming him must believe he can make an impact. He has played showcase games in the AHL since returning from long-term injured reserve, but he hasn’t played in the NHL. He has recovered from hip surgery, but he has accumulated a lot of rust. Last season Niittymaki was 12-7-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average last season after falling into the back-up role behind Antti Niemi. “I know they’ve been working hard to find a place for me to play,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s probably not as easy as it sounds because I’ve been out with the (hip) surgery and I’ve only played games in the minors.”
For a look at other additional trade targets, check out my story on STLToday.com.