10 Blockbuster Trades That Must Happen Before NHL Trade Deadline

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10 NHL Trade Deadline Deals That Need to Happen

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As the Olympics in Sochi, Russia continue on towards the knockout stage of the hockey tournament, NHL general managers are still thinking about the looming Mar. 5 trade deadline. In typical NHL fashion, only five teams can truly be considered sellers at this point. In the Eastern Conference, the separation between the final wildcard spot and the 13th spot is just three points. In the West, the difference between that last playoff spot and 12th place is four points. The teams fighting for those final spots for a chance at the postseason have a crucial decision to make: Do they trade away valuable assets for a short-term fix or do they take advantage of a sellers market?

Obviously the main contenders near the top of each conference will be looking to add that one extra piece to push them from in the mix to the favorites before the deadline passes. It's what the teams on the brink decide to do that will make or break the trade market, and that's why plenty of the noise involves players from these franchises.

There are a lot of names going around the trade rumor winds lately, yet some players on this list may surprise you. Some are former elite players who could find new life on another team and others are grizzled veterans going for one last shot at Lord Stanley's Cup. There is certainly a market for each of these players should their teams decide it would be better to move them out than to keep them for the long run. Don't be shocked to see these names being thrown around come Mar. 5.

Alex Weinstein is a New York Rangers and NHL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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10. Ryan Miller

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It has been almost guaranteed that the Buffalo Sabres will move Ryan Miller sometime this season. If they don't, he will certainly walk as an unrestricted free agent. Trading Miller can aid in the Sabres' plans for a rebuild and rebranding of their style of hockey. There are several teams who could use a starting netminder going into the playoffs such as the St. Louis Blues and the playoff hopeful Washington Capitals.

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9. Ryan Callahan

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The New York Rangers and Ryan Callahan have not been able to come to an agreement on a new contract. Experts such as TSN's Darren Dreger have reported a lot of interest from teams in the West, though there is sure to be interest for a well-rounded player known for his character in a long playoff run. He would fit well on any of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Phoenix Coyotes or the Blues.

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8. Jaromir Jagr

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The look on his face says it all. Jaromir Jagr loves to play hockey and will continue to do so as long as he is physically able. What's more amazing is that the 42-year-old Czech leads the New Jersey Devils in points by a wide margin. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and would make a great addition to any club that needs a creative and strong forward to provide complementary scoring.

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7. Dany Heatley

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Dany Heatley has been a 50-goal scorer in the NHL twice, but watching him play now you wouldn't believe it. One of the bigger drop-offs in recent memory, Heatley is on pace for 15 goals this season. An impending free agent, his days with the Minnesota Wild are numbered and there are teams that would chance taking on the former goal machine. It would add an immediate boost to a team on the cusp of a playoff spot and could jump Heatley's play as well.

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6. Paul Stastny

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Who couldn't use a top line center in today's NHL? Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny is having one of the best seasons of his career, yet the team's depth at the position could force a move for the American Olympian. The Toronto Maple Leafs would be a good match and could bite for a center as skilled as Stastny who would add to their depth which includes Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and injured Dave Bolland.

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5. Mike Cammalleri

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Extra goal scoring punch never hurt anyone and that is Mike Cammalleri's strength. The Calgary Flames forward can play center or left wing and has a great shot. He could be the rental player to put a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning or his former team, the Los Angeles Kings, over the top. While undersized, there is no doubting his ability to put the puck in the net.

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4. Andrew MacDonald

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The writing is on the wall with Andrew MacDonald. After rejecting a four-year extension worth $16 million with the New York Islanders, MacDonald's name has been in trade rumors around the NHL. He currently leads the league in blocked shots and would make a good addition to any team looking to bolster its defense. His minuscule $550,000 cap hit means that even a team up against the cap like the Boston Bruins or the San Jose Sharks could afford to acquire him as they press on towards a deep playoff run.

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3. Martin Brodeur

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Martin Brodeur started his NHL career 20 years ago with the Devils and has remained there ever since. It is rare to see a player stay with one club his entire career in the world of sports, yet those that do are usually monumental players such as the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter. Coming up to this trade deadline, the Devils are fighting for the final wildcard playoff spot in the East and have given the reigns to newly acquired Cory Schneider. Though this has been Brodeur's worst season in recent memory, he is still a solid NHL goaltender who could provide a veteran presence to whichever teams miss out on Miller or Jaroslav Halak, such as the Capitals or the Winnipeg Jets.

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2. Ryan Smyth

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Ryan Smyth is 37-years-old and has yet to win that elusive Stanley Cup. His contract with the Edmonton Oilers expires at the end of this season, and the Oilers are not going to make the playoffs. His production has decreased as his career winds down, but he is a grizzled veteran who would make a solid addition to any team looking for experience in the playoffs. Smyth has 59 points in 93 career playoff games and would fit right in on a team like the Philadelphia Flyers. Smyth's physicality would work well alongside Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell.

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1. Thomas Vanek

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The Islanders were trying to trade Thomas Vanek before the Olympic trade freeze but were unable to do so. He is the most skilled offensive player available and would provide an immediate boost to any team looking for scoring. Could he join his old friend Jason Pominville early in Minnesota or fix the Kings' scoring problems? Or could he join on with another team such as the Anaheim Ducks to go for it all? He wants to test the free agent waters, and more than half the league will surely be after him. Vanek is the player to keep an eye on as we go into the trade deadline.

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  • Gary Doan

    Vanek owns a home in Minnesota and lives there during the off-season. He won WCHA and NCAA National Championships, while playing college hockey in Minnesota too, so he would feel right at home there .