As many experts have observed, the tight standings in this lockout shortened season has stifled the trade market. Most teams remain mathematically alive.
But the great shakeout is coming. The Florida Panthers are dead in the water and looking to shed payroll. The Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning are threatening to fall out of the hunt as well.
In the Western Conference, Columbus is in rebuild mode under the new John Davidson/Jarmo Kekalainen regime and Calgary would be advised to follow the same path.
The Blues are looking to buy, of course, and not sell. The team would love to add a "top four" defenseman, but their choices appear limited at the moment.
Here is a look at potential trade targets for teams willing to add payroll:
Corey Perry, W, Ducks: He could be a team changer for any squad willing to pay an extreme price to get him. Speculation in Anaheim has Perry determined to test free agency after running mate Ryan Getzlaf signed an eight-year, $66 million deal Friday. Could the Ducks also afford to pay Perry $8.25 million per season? That would not be easy, so Perry draw attention from teams looking to pull of a trade-and-sign maneuver.
Roberto Luongo, GT, Canucks: With each Vancouver loss, the pressure on GM Mike Gillis increases. The goaltending tag team isn't working for the Canucks. Cory Schneider has suffered in this arrangement. Might Florida take back Luongo and make him the centerpiece of future marketing programs?
Mike Ribeiro, Capitals: He, not Nicklas Backstrom, has served as Alex Ovechkin’s center this season. And first-year coach Adam Oates has also forced Ovechkin to play right wing instead of left wing. Ovechkin has struggled with his arrangement, but Ribeiro has still put up numbers. He is headed toward unrestricted free agency at the age of 33. Will Washington opt to pay him or start over?
Jarome Iginla, W, Flames: He is entrenched in Calgary, just as Coyotes lifer Shane Doan is entrenched in Phoenix. But Calgary is going nowhere in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, again, and many contenders would love to give him a taste of Stanley Cup contention. But the Calgary Sun reports that Iginla hasn’t instructed agent Don Meehan whether to push for a contract extension. If he opts for free agency, Calgary needs to move him as rental for draft picks and/or prospects.
Brandon Dubinsky, F, Blue Jackets: Davidson likes Dubinsky’s sturdy overall game. But he isn’t as excited about his $4.2 salary million cap hit through 2014-15. Dubinsky could be a terrific third-line piece or a contender capable of affording such luxury.
For more trade targets and other notes and links, check out my story on STLTody.com.