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.

This is the fourth installment of the dive for the first overall pick. Earlier editions can be found at three, two and one.

Ain’t no dive like a Montreal dive

’cause a Montreal dive don’t stop

The Montreal Canadiens were perhaps the most successful divers around the deadline. They kicked the party off weeks early by dropping Mike Cammalleri (@MCammalleri13) for Rene Bourque (@RBourque17). The first has had seasons of 39 and 34 goals as well as being a point per game player in the playoffs over 32 games. Rene Bourque has never topped 27 goals, and his playoff performance is something like one half the quality of his regular season norm over his career. Next out the door was locker room leader, Stanley Cup champion, shutdown defensive defenseman Hal Gill. He too was shipped out in advance of the deadline. Last was a blow to local nightclubs as Andrei Kostitsyn, In both the Gill and Kostitsyn trades the Habs didn’t take back a single NHL player. They did however go with one of their traditional “heritage picks” by grabbing Blake Geoffrion, who wasn’t offensively gifted enough to stay in the Predators lineup.

In a bid to avoid having any sort of quality depth Scott Howson General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets set the asking price for Rick Nash at roughly a Dr Evil like figure. Apparently neither Glen Sather or Pierre Gauthier had working phones the last two weeks. He did also add a defenseman who according to fans of his first team was utterly useless, and lose a former first round pick in the fabled 2003 draft. In order to make sure accountability didn’t creep into the team mentality they gave the aging Vaclav Prospal a hefty raise for turning in a -17 and 8.3% shooting accuracy.  They carefully avoided trading for any quality players in the future as well. As compensation for moving Pahlsson, Smithson, and Vermette they picked up two fourth round picks, a 2nd round pick, a fifth round pick, and UFA journeyman goalie Curtis McElhinney. I’m reasonably certain the entire central division and likely the whole league was put on notice by these shrewd moves.

The Edmonton Oilers are smack dab in the middle of the fourth five year plan to rebuild. In mid February they traded guys none of the beat writers could pick out in a broom closet with the Anaheim Ducks. On deadline day they swapped blueliners with the Minnesota Wild. The trade was greeted with a heaping helping of meh with a generous side of wtf by fans and observers. The team is in danger of not having the most balls in the lottery machine for the first time a while if they don’t somehow find a way to get 11 less points than Columbus the rest of the season. Unfortunately for their quest it appears Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be playing a couple more games as he’s patently refused to stay out of a lineup he lacked the muscle to stay in and stay healthy having recovered from two shoulder injuries already.

The tailgating fans in Raleigh have had little to celebrate this season. Sadly the brain trust of the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t even raise their hopes on deadline day. None of that reason to celebrate came in the days leading up to the deadline. Nor did they happen on the deadline itself. While shedding Alexi Ponikarovsky for  a minor league defenseman and a fourth round pick probably seemed like a great way to make sure the Devils didn’t make the playoffs either, it hasn’t worked out that way. As the deadline drew nearer and nearer Jim Rutherford locked up more and more of the players who have helped the team to a tie for 27th place in the NHL. Showing all the savvy that saw him sign Kaberle to a bloated deal he handed out a number of surprising contracts. Showing none of the savvy that saw him trade Kaberle he didn’t trade any of his players for picks while telling them it was for the good of the team and that things might change in the future.

The good news for New York Islanders fans this season is that people now with an All Star appearance behind him know who John Taveres is. The bad news is pretty much everything else. Rick Dipietro is still healthy as a middle ages town in the grip of the black plague, his contract still expires roughly two years past forever. There is no deal for an arena, and on deadline day they biggest asset they picked up is Marc Cantin. None of the unsigned players like Parenteau or Nabokov who they probably want to keep were locked up, and none of the aging stiffs were shuffled off free tattoo gift certificates or second round picks.

Given the quality of the teams its likely that Yakupov or whoever might go first overall if someone has a stroke on their way to the podium will toil in obscurity for several years possibly as the only player keeping the franchise afloat. Eventually he’ll either leave as a free agent or get sold up the river to another franchise desperate for success but with little else to build with.  Hopefully for his sake he’ll be able to justify the hundred thousand year contract someone will try signing him to.