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February 7, 2012 | 8:55pm ET
Don't expect to see any blockbusters
 TFP Columnist Tab Bamford doesn't expect to see any mega-trades to happen by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

CHICAGO, IL -- Lots of fans are currently asking, "When is the bottom going to fall out?"

Or, from the perspective of other fans, "When will the flood gates open?"

Everyone is staring at Feb. 27 on their calendar and counting the hours until something significant happens. But the playoff picture needs some Drain-o before the trades can flow.

In the Western Conference, only three teams have started to achieve the necessary separation to begin considering which players are available. Indeed, Chicago has lost six of their last ten entering Tuesday night's contest in Denver, and yet they continue to sit comfortably in sixth place in the conference while six teams battle for the two postseason berths behind them.

How tight is the West? The longest current streak, either wins or losses, in the conference is two games.

The Eastern Conference isn't much better. Tampa sits 10 points out of eighth, but are actually closer to winning their division than bumping Ottawa out of eighth. But the difference between eighth and fourth is only five points, and the top four teams in that "competitive" Southeast Division are separated by only eight point; the Bolts would have to jump Winnipeg and Washington while catching Florida to get on top of that race.

And the separation isn't happening in the East, either; only two teams, New Jersey and Toronto, had a winning or losing streak of longer than two games.

So if we take the teams that could, legitimately, consider the postseason a realistic possibility out of the picture, there are maybe seven teams getting ready to sell.

And some of them aren't ready to roll over.

Carolina re-signed Tim Gleason, and Anaheim gave Francois Beauchemin an extension as well. In a market desperate for blue line help and thin on available players, two of perhaps the most valuable chips were taken off the market early.

That's because there's another factor slowing movement.

Some teams, like Carolina and Anaheim, appear to be accepting this year's disappointing results as an anomaly and, in spite of pressure to make a bold statement, continue to stay the course with a long-term plan in place.

While fans may have been thrilled to contemplate the potential of a name like Eric Staal or Ryan Getzlaf in another city, reality appears to be contrary to those daydreams.

Over the coming weeks, injured players will return and others will leave the ice for one reason or another. And the power of a three-game swing in one direction or another could push some teams to find their white flag and start making calls.

General managers will need to mitigate "how soon is too soon" against "when is it too late," all while fans swap heart attacks for goals and abuse Twitter while the paid professionals make the important decisions.

It's a wonderful time of year, isn't it?

Tab Bamford is a Columnist for and the Chicago Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine.



Jan. 31, 2012 All Star caliber trades
Jan. 17, 2012 Immediate Impact
Jan. 07, 2012 It was a good idea, at the time
Jan. 03, 2012 New Year's Resolutions
Dec. 30, 2011 Trading Places
Dec. 13, 2011 Bench clearing changes
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