With Mike Fisher’s injury given a preliminary recover time that takes until about the time of the Winter Classic, assuming no set backs, the Nashville Predators are now in dire need of a quality center. Having spent the assets to acquire James Neal and Filip Forsberg in the last fifteen months, the time and the circumstances are right to double down and aim for a playoff position again.

Shea Weber is signed, rested, and should have a chip on his shoulder after another season where he probably should have gotten the Norris, or at least finished second. Seth Jones has spent a year learning the NHL. Craig Smith and Colin Wilson are now tested NHL players who have weathered the storm of disastrous seasons. Most importantly Pekka Rinne is healthy and ready for the hunt.

Out on the coast are the Boston Bruins, for many reasons the team is in cap jail and the situation isn’t going to get better any time soon with Soderberg, Boychuck, McQuaid, and Hamilton all due new contracts next year, and that’s with Torey Krug and Reilly Smith still unsigned right now. With moderate salary increases you’re likely looking at about $12 million in salary minimum between these players. Someone has to go.

Bergeron has a no movement clause and trading him for anything less than 6 first round draft picks, the Holy Grail and a roster player is likely to result in Peter Chiarelli being burned in effigy outside the Garden, (and also lower concessions, ticket sales and merchandise).  Chris Kelly, when healthy, is a great penalty killer, a top shelf checking line center, and the type of all around good dude that teams seek out, unfortunately he finished last season on the shelf, and has a full no trade clause. He’s also not the type of center the Nashville Predators currently need.  Greg Campbell is a fourth line version of Kelly with all the same problems, excepting the no trade clause.

Realistically, that leaves Carl Soderberg who has one season of NHL play to set his value and David Krejci. Krejci has found success with wingers as varied as Milan Lucic Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, and incidentally lead the NHL in post season scoring. Moving Soderberg has essentially no impact on the Boston Bruins cap situation, it would give them about $2.6 million in cap space, about enough to renew Krug and Smith if the brass turns the screws and risks alienating both players and their agents but not really enough to add a replacement as well.

That makes David Krejci the default candidate, that he’s also the most likely to bring in a quality return is fortuitous for the Bruins. If you use the Phil Kessel trade as a benchmark you will get back a solid return and don’t spend any roster space on it. If you go with something closer to the Joe Thornton trade you retool with a mixed bag. Brad Stuart was the best defenseman on the roster when he arrived, Marco Sturm would play for several seasons and score the winning goal in the Bruins only Winter Classic appearance.

Many observers would say the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators are both a crossroads. The Predators need to reach and advance in the playoffs if they are to be financially solvent, and grow their fanbase. The Boston Bruins have several talented prospects at center where the risk is stagnation and regression with an speedy return to a system and roster that looks like the 2005-06 roster if they don’t promote one or more players. The NHL and all it’s feeder leagues are better when more teams are competitive.

The right trade for both teams is one where both teams win. The Predators need to reestablish the themselves as a playoff team if they hope to extend James Neal, and you have to be pretty jaded not to imagine fans in Smashville enjoying a line with David Krejci centering James Neal and Filip Forsberg.

The NHL trade deadline is less than three weeks away, some players may or may not be healthy by then, but should still be shuffled of onto the roster of someone else either for a strong return, a change of scenery for them or the potential return and or cap space.

Thomas Vanek:

It is as plain as the snow on Buffalo streets that the team is in need of rebuild. Vanek has shown this season he can contribute big time but at 29, it is unlikely he’ll be as powerful offensively in 3-5 years when the team might be ready to contend. For Deroit, Nashville, or Los Angeles who have cap space and might want to add scoring, he’s the number one option who might be available.

Mike Green:

The Washington Capitals are retooling on the fly, and trying to develop a new system of play. You can’t do that if you aren’t in the lineup. Last season Green played just 32 games, a total he may have trouble matching this year, the year before just 49. Since breaking into the league he’s had just one year where he played all 82 games. With cap contraction a reality, his six million dollars would look mighty fine if it belonged to someone else. If anyone is willing to take him for more than a 2nd round pick and a solid prospect, the return is worth it.

Jarome Iginla:

One of the great ambassadors for the sport deserves a chance to win a cup.  Of the top contenders, all of them have cap space and can likely be parted from two or three prospects and or picks. Better still, all three of the four are American teams so there’s less likelihood fans see it as a betrayal. Far be it for me to suggest that waiving a no movement clause doesn’t burn bridges or imply collusion between players being traded and management, but one could take a look at Keith Tkachuk’s career and draw their own conclusions.

Andrei Markov:

While as constituted the Montreal Canadiens are a likely contender, swapping the injury prone Markov out for a first or second line center who can actually win faceoffs would shore up their penalty kill, give them more puck possession, and likely improve their goal scored. With a full year left on his contract, a few teams ought to be interested just to see how much he can help groom their young blueliners.

Jake Gardinier:

Why in the world he’s in the Leafs dog house is anyones guess. His fall from grace has happened faster and just as inexplicably as Keith Aulies, and the time he’s spending in the AHL is as wasteful as Nazim Kadri’s, maybe worse since the big team has a coach who is getting results. If the Leafs don’t want him, there’s a good 20 teams who will be happy to exchange “AHL prospects” with the Leafs to relieve them of their burden. With his agent getting in on the inquiry via social media, it is only a matter of time before the situation becomes a distraction to the team.

Johnny Boychuk:

The former AHL defenseman of the year has stagnated badly. It began almost as soon as he got to the NHL, clearly a change of scenery is in order. While his $3.3million cap his isn’t by itself that bad, hes the Bruins second highest paid defenseman, and currently has as many points as Shawn Thornton and has seen his powerplay time on ice go from  1:01 per game in 2010-11 to 0:09 per game this year.

Jay Bouwmeester:

Until the team finds a goaltender who can stop a beach ball, it doesn’t matter who is on the blueline. Bouwmeester is contributing at half a point per game, his highest level since arriving in Calgary. His contract is up after next season, and I can’t see him wanting to resign in Calgary, so the sooner he waives his no trade clause and get’s moving the sooner he can rebuild his market value an maybe not have to take an enormous pay cut in 2012-15, with luck he might win a cup a long the way.

Sam Gagner:

While he’s the surprise leader of the Oilers scoring race, he’s also due a new contract July 1. With the wealth of forward talent the team has and no chance of making the playoffs, Gagner might be the best trade piece the team has to acquire a solid, defensive minded top pairing defenseman or at least a couple very strong prospects.

Marc Staal:

When it comes to luck, if Marc didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any at all. Both his brothers have won a Stanley Cup and he hasn’t, one of them concussed him, and now he’s caught a puck with his brow. From the team standpoint, his time downchecked due to injury has left a great deal of space for other players to mature into. The Rangers have just 17 players signed for next season and only nine million to sign the six other roster spots something has to give, of the players who need a contract come July the first are Michael Sauer, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonaugh, and Derek Stepan, moving out Staal’s four million for a rasher of picks or prospects before the deadline or at the draft makes a lot of sense.

The Kings are one of seven teams to make a coaching change this season. It has improved their winning percentage, it hasn’t improved their scoring. The Kings are still last in the league in goals for. As has been mentioned before, they don’t have any viable left wings. On the left side they have Dustin Penner, Simone Gagne, Scott Parse and little else. Penner’s stats speak for themselves. Gagne is shockingly out with an injury. Scott Parse will miss the rest of the season. As well as Quick has been playing, adding someone on the left who has traditionally been able to damage is an obvious need.

On the other end of the continent, the Montreal Canadiens are in shambles. Mike Cammalleri publicly expressed some displeasure with the way things are going. The Canadien’s too have made a coaching change, and thanks to the cities rampant anglophobia, made the sitting coach a lame duck. Sitting 12th in the east and fifth in the northeast division isn’t a place anyone is used to seeing the Habs. With fights breaking out in practice, It’s clearly time for a shakeup on the ice in Montreal.

Sending Cammalleri to California gives the Kings a bonafide threat, and lets them add him to Kopitar, Brown and Richards as a fearsome foursome. Going back, the Habs should probably look for the Kings 1st round pick, and at least one or two AHL’ers or prospects who should be NHL ready next year. Cammalleri did play with the Kings before, and was highly productive there including a 39 goal season. With two (or with other moves possibly more) first round picks used wisely, the Habs could put themselves in good position to be the first Canadian city to win the cup since the last time they won it in 1993.

The Lost Nordiques and the Boston Bruins have a history of trades, the most memorable of which was the trade that sent hall of famer Ray Bourque to win a Stanley Cup. This trade idea is slightly less laden with all star and all time names, but could result in one or both teams making their own cup run again. This would be a three player trade that provided both teams with something they desperately need.

To Boston:

Chris Stewart,

Why: Goal scoring touch, feisty attitude, big body. Putting Stewart with Savard or Bergeron and you’re instantly upgrading size,  scoring depth and physicality. With the

To Colorado:

Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler

Why:  Colorado’s defense and especially penalty kill are woeful. The have the 27th ranked penalty kill in the league, and not surprisingly they sit at the same place for goals against. Both Wheeler and Paille possess speed in the top 5-10% of the NHL, and even if they are a slight downgrade in goalscoring, between the two of them they can probably improve the penalty kill 5% minimum.  As the highest scoring team in the NHL, a five or six goals for over the course of the regular season are not going to spell disaster.The Avalanche are likely to be flowing into the post season for the second straight year, and a key to sticking around to see round two will be improving their penalty kill.

Cap consideration:

Annualized, this would save the Bruins about $400,000 this season,  and cost the Avalanche the same amount according to Capgeek.com. Both Wheeler and Stewart are RFA’s at the end of their deals according to NHLNumbers.com, with Wheelers expiring this year, and Stewart next season. Paille would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2011-2012 season. Even with the cap expected to rise next year, long term the Avalanche are looking at some a some serious number crunching. The recently acquired Tomas Fleishmann is due a new contract at the end of the year, and he’s clicked quite well with Matt Duchene. Duchene’s entry level deal will end at as next season expires, and I can’t imagine him signing cheap. At 34 Milan Hejduk is still trucking along and is currently a more than point per game player through 28 games this season. Sooner or later the Avalanche will have to replace the aging Adam Foote who eats up a lot of time on their penalty kill, and it’s doubtful they can get anyone worth having at a cap hit as low as his. For the Bruins the cap savings might mean the ability to recall Caron, or Arniel and maybe take an extra player or two on road trips without taking a prohibitive cap penalty that will carry over into next year.