A flurry of activity Tuesday afternoon has whet the appetites of the masses for the final hours until the NHL's trade deadline.
The biggest story of the day was the late breaking news of Roberto Luongo being traded to the Florida Panthers. Luongo wasn't believed to be in play, and many assumed that his contractual situation made any kind of trade nearly impossible.
Luongo aside, key players with the option of unrestricted free agency still remain, which means they are the perfect rental candidates for several teams. A large obstacle is the salary cap, as several clubs are dealing with financial limitations.
However, some clubs are projected to free up space by making minor trades.
Anaheim making a play for a major move?
The Ducks became major players Tuesday by trading top-line forward Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals, goaltender Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers and acquiring Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars. Some believe this could be a precursor to a secondary, larger move that could substantially alter the firepower of the roster.
As Elliotte Friedman notes, Anaheim has been very conscious of its salary cap situation this season, via 30 Thoughts:
If a trade for a draft pick or a waiver move makes you scratch your head, wait to see if a second shoe drops.
Who could try this? Maybe the Anaheim Ducks. The way the cap works, you "bank" the space you save every day and Anaheim's worked very hard to maximize that. It has made more than 50 transactions back and forth between its NHL team and its AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. There's two reasons a team does this: a tight budget; and/or saving up for the deadline. Anaheim is a budget team. But the manoeuvring has left the Ducks with breathing room -- in a year where they lead the NHL in points.
Does this mean the club might make a run at Thomas Vanek? Maybe not. But it certainly has peaked interest, which manager Bob Murray fueled when meeting with reporters:
Ducks GM Bob Murray said "the phones are still ringing and lim still making calls."— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) March 4, 2014
Philadelphia acquires Andrew MacDonald
The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2014 third-round pick, a 2015 second-round pick and prospect Matt Mangene. MacDonald is in the final year of his contract and accounts for just $550,000 in space, which allows the Flyers to pursue other deadline acquisitions if they so desire.
Philadelphia now has nine defensemen on the roster and will likely look to move a piece before 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Andrej Meszaros is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Philadelphia is believed to be looking to acquire a second-round pick in return.
Flyers, Jets resume talks for Evander Kane
In addition to exploring Ryan Kesler, the Flyers are reportedly engaged in discussions with Winnipeg for forward Evander Kane, according to Josh Rimer. Kane's time in Winnipeg has been dramatic and his name often surfaces in trade rumors. Philadelphia could use a scoring forward to play alongside Claude Giroux and the Flyers are always looking to add talent.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that the San Jose Sharks are interested in bringing Devin Setoguchi back to San Jose. Setoguchi has one year remaining on his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The 27-year-old forward was originally selected by the Sharks with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and spent four seasons with the Sharks before being traded to the Minnesota Wild.
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Marian Gaborik in play
Some wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets might hold on to Marian Gaborik as an end-of-season rental to push for the playoffs. Management even acknowledged him in such a way. However, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the club is still open to moving the scoring forward for the right price.
Portzline has been tweeting that manager Jarmo Kekalainen is exploring deals and might use the pending unrestricted free agent to bring in insulation for Blue Jackets' defense corps. Portzline believes the Los Angeles Kings might be tempted to make a deal if Vanek ends up in Anaheim.
Phoenix Coyotes exploring Ales Hemsky
Johnston states that the asking price is a little high at this time. It's believed that Edmonton had a deal on the table with Los Angeles that eventually fell through because of salary cap constrictions.
Avalanche expected to stand pat
Joe Sakic told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that Colorado will not be making any moves before Wednesday's deadline. Colorado has multiple pieces that have been speculated about, including Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly.
Sakic told LeBrun that the Avalanche will not be trading O'Reilly, and added that while the organization is open to upgrading, it is happy with what it has, via ESPN:
"Are we looking to upgrade? I think everyone, if they can, is looking to upgrade. But we're pretty content with what we've got here right now. If something that makes sense that's going to help us, not just this year but for the next 2-3 years, then that's something we might look at."
As for Statsny, he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but told the Denver Post that he would take a discount to stay with the Avalanche:
"You can obviously go somewhere and get more money somewhere else. But if you have something good and you want to stick with it, that hometown discount is obviously something that everyone's aware of and is important to do. You want both sides to be happy. You don't want to (mistreat) the team and you want the team to be put in a good situation where they can kind of compete down the road as well."