We are almost there. The NHL trade deadline is just over 24 hours away, after which the part of Western civilization that cares about hockey can return to normal life. In the meantime, here's a daily gathering of trade speculation making the published rounds.
Feel free to add your own (with links or citation please) in comments. The armchair GM thing is also welcome, but please keep it loosely based on reality.
The Vanek Conundrum
New York Islanders wing Thomas Vanek is universally seen as the "big fish" on the market this year. So of course the hockey gods would make this the year of "buyer sanity." That's the phrase Pierre LeBrun used to describe the slow movement with so many UFA wingers still on the market on the day before the trade deadline.
Others speculate the slow pace of movement is because teams are waiting to see who gets Vanek first, and then the market will march in line afterward.
But that points to an interesting paradox for the Isles: Vanek is the big fish, but he's also the biggest cap hit and available in a year when there are many scoring wingers for sale. In contrast, Andrew MacDonald is a small fish, but he's also wonderfully affordable (cap-wise) and is available in a year when there aren't too many defensemen for sale.
Or if there is buyer sanity, is it because all the buyers have splurged in previous years? That's one suggestion from Craig Custance:
Part of the problem for [Islanders GM Garth] Snow is that teams that might typically be willing to pay for a top rental have been shipping first-round picks out of town the last few years so often that they’ve suddenly become stingy.
Custance also quotes a few sources saying teams are trying to talk themselves out of splurging for Vanek, with one unnamed exec noting what Isles fans have noted: He hasn't exactly been lights out in recent games, the Florida game excepting.
Neither scenario paints good conditions for the Isles in trying to recoup what they dished out in the trade for a seasonlong courtship of Vanek.
But as always, things can change rapidly.
Kings Prefer Moulson?
For any of these, of course, you must question the motives of anyone leaking such information to reporters (e.g. to get the word out that "we have options" in order to get other targets' prices to come down).
Many Competitors for MacDonald?
Another day, another reference to multiple suitors for Andrew MacDonald. At what price? As high as a non-first pick and a prospect, says Bernstein:
Kings still in on NYI Andrew MacDonald - price is pick (not a 1st) and decent prospect but plenty of competition for the blueliner— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) March 3, 2014
If Garth Snow can pull that one off...
The Callahan Gap
I still think both sides will come down from their bluffs, but maybe not. The Post on Ryan Callahan and the Smurfs: "That gap has shrunk to a total of about $3 million, spread over six years, and yet it might be a gap that proves insurmountable."
Since Glen Sather always squeezes his own free agents, and since Callahan is still an important part of a Rangers team that fancies itself contenders, I make this to be seasonlong gamesmanship from Callahan and his agent.
Cammalleri to Market
The Flyers defense is a timeless topic, much like their goaltending but with more moving parts. The sense is they'd want an upgrade, but its their defense who are reportedly drawing interest:
Some interest in Flyers d-man Kimmo Timonen, but, told he wants to stay in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, asking price for Meszaros...2nd rnder.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 4, 2014
Sabres for Sale
Everyone in Buffalo is for sale, and the TSN insiders say there is continuing interest in Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Meyers (who might be less for sale than everyone else).
Will Brad Boyes Extend with Florida?
Dale Tallon is interested in retaining several of his pending free agents, but that doesn't mean he won't trade them if they don't sign.
Tallon said he's made offer to Boyes waiting for agents answer #flapanthers— Harvey Fialkov (@hfialkov) March 3, 2014
Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes, what'ch you gonna do?
Sabres Asking Too Much for Stewart?
On the NHL Insider segment for the NHL Network last night, Bob McKenzie said Ottawa interest in the current Sabre "has cooled" because "nephew Tim is asking too much from Uncle Brian."
Meanwhile, the negotiations with careerlong Senator Chris Phillips continue. Most bet on an extension, but what if they don't agree? What's he worth?
While the Senators contemplate giving Chris Phillips a 2 yr ext, what's fair trade return? Told Sens want a 1st round pick.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 4, 2014
Minnesota's Goalie Chase
For the third straight day multiple reports indicate the Wild are poking around for a goalie as injury insurance. The most logical match would seem to be Jaroslav Halak -- Buffalo shouldn't have plans for him -- so the question is can the two sides agree on value. If I'm Tim Murray, I take what I can get.