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February 21, 2011 :: 11:47pm ET
The storm before the storm
TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta discusses the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline.

TORONTO, ON -- With 13 trades completed in the last eight days (so far), this has arguably been the most active prelude to the NHL trade deadline in recent memory. As D-Day quickly approaches -- now less than a week away -- the calm before the storm has already hit the charts as a Category 4.

The amount of league-wide trade talk is off the charts. General managers are looking for ways to improve their rosters, both for the present and for the future. We've witnessed a significant amount of "hockey trades" go down this month, which is much more exciting than a normal deal for a "rental player."

Saturday morning's shocker between St. Louis and Colorado (thanks again for the 1am wake-up call), which saw Erik Johnson, Jay McClement, Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk flip teams, illustrated the point that teams aren't just looking for a quick fix. That point was amplified even more earlier today when the Dallas Stars sent James Neal and Matt Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Alex Goligoski.

There is a lot of activity out there. If you think your team is sitting back, relaxing and watching players pass them by, you are grossly mistaken. Each one of the 30 teams out there is looking to make a move or two. It's not that easy to make a trade; the big ones usually take weeks, if not months.

With that being said, there is still six days of craziness ahead of us. Names like Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, John-Michael Liles, Bryan McCabe, Rostislav Klesla and Tomas Vokoun are being tossed around like hot cakes, and there will undoubtedly be a bunch more traded before Feb. 28's 3pm ET deadline.

The Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings, who met in the 1992-93 Stanley Cup Final, are vigorously scouring the market for a deal, though not with one another.

Habs GM Pierre Gauthier wants to bring in at least one top-six goal-scorer and a shutdown defenseman, with Penner, Klesla, Kristian Huselius, Chris Phillips and Ryan Suter linked as targets. Four of the five are fair game, though Phillips' situation remains unclear (I can't imagine the Nashville Predators parting with Suter). Gauthier is believed to be using Yannick Weber, Andrei Kostitsyn and Lars Eller, among others, as bait.

The Kings, meanwhile, would love to get their hands on Hemsky, or a player with his offensive traits to play alongside Anze Kopitar on their first line. Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn are available only if the Kings get a top-line player.

Brad Richards is also on Los Angeles' radar, but his situation is quite hazy.

The Stars maintain it's their priority to sign Richards to a long-term extension, and reports out of Dallas suggest the star center will only waive his no-trade clause if GM Joe Nieuwendyk insists. It's hard to imagine the Stars parting with him, especially after today's trade with Pittsburgh, which by the way I like very much for both clubs.

New York Rangers GM Glen Sather would also love to get his hands on Richards, but he might be in a better position to land someone like Hemsky, McCabe and/or Brad Boyes. Rumblings out of the Big Apple suggest the Rangers are prepared to move young stud Michael Del Zotto if the right opportunity presented itself.

Del Zotto was apparently discussed as part of a deal with Toronto for Tomas Kaberle, who was dealt to Boston.

With Kaberle and Eric Brewer, whom the Rangers and Habs were hot for, no longer on the table for most teams, Colorado's John-Michael Liles' stock has slightly risen. He's being "shopped hard," according to a league executive, and there's a very good chance he'll be dealt by the deadline.

In Columbus, the Blue Jackets could be in for a major shakeup if GM Scott Howson finds the right dance partner. He tried to get Goligoski from Pittsburgh, but he balked at the price. He'll look elsewhere for a mobile defenseman and a top-line scorer to play with Rick Nash -- and that doesn't necessarily mean he'll get a center.

Jakub Voracek has been on the block for several weeks now, and there's a good chance he, Huselius and Klesla are all on the move in the coming days.

The Calgary Flames have been linked to Huselius, but they don't have a boat load of cap space and might be more inclined to acquiring a grittier forward for their second or third line, and Ottawa's Chris Neil could be a candidate.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine.
His columns appear every weekly on TFP.
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Pagnotta Archives:
Nov. 15, 2010 Light at the end of the tunnel
Nov. 14, 2010 Where there's smoke...
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