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5 NHL Players Most Likely to Move at NHL Trade Deadline

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NHL Trade Deadline Promises to See Rapid Movement

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Trade Deadline is due to pass on Mar. 5, 2014 at 3 p.m. ET, and the rumor mill is chugging at full throttle in anticipation. Some of the rumors that have been flying about are a bit silly in all honesty, but when a massive deal such as Ryan Miller going to the St. Louis Blues has already been pulled off, it is clear that anything can truly happen at the deadline, even if that means franchise pillars moving on.

The players that will be moving around will likely range from shutdown defensemen to stabilizing goaltenders and even a game-changing goal scorer or two as well. These are the types of players that can switch a team's momentum in an instant with a big hit, save or goal and can even be the ultimate difference for a side that either is on the cusp of playoff contention or actually winning the Stanley Cup.

Currently there are four teams apiece within six points of the last playoff spot in the Eastern and Western Conference, which extends upon the fact that making key additions could be the difference this season. Of course this also means that 24 out of 30 teams currently have logical reason to believe that they could make the NHL Playoffs as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches, meaning that the last few teams in each conference will likely be cherry picked from in big numbers.

Keeping the equal need for teams on the bubble and those that are firmly entrenched in the playoff picture right now to improve in mind, I have compiled a list of the five NHL players most likely to be traded before the NHL Trade Deadline passes. In an unsurprising note, each of the selected players are on teams that are either firmly out of the playoff picture or are hanging on by their fingernails.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, "Like" him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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5. Ales Hemsky

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For teams that are looking for a potentially game changing playmaker, Edmonton Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky is the right guy. The 30-year-old right winger is an excellent skater, and he truly makes general managers salivate with his ability to hold onto the puck and find open teammates all over the ice. During the current season he only has seven goals and 17 assists, but many will chalk this up to playing on a poor Oilers team. The Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs are amongst the top teams looking to take Hemsky on as a rental player for the remainder of the season.

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4. David Legwand

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David Legwand is not a guy who will change a playoff series with his goal scoring prowess, but he has good speed, is great on face-offs and contributes in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. The Nasvhille Predators are currently four points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, but realistically they have little chance of climbing the four teams separating them from that spot, making them likely to trade Legwand. The Detroit Red Wings look like the most logical suitor for the pending unrestricted free agent, although he will have to waive his no-trade clause to move anywhere.

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3. Andrew MacDonald

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The current campaign has been filled with great disappointment for the New York Islanders, and they are now looking to recoup some assets for players who look likely to leave town this summer. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald ranks amongst this group as he has received all contract extension offers from the team. The 27-year-old will encourage inquiring teams, as he is great moving the puck in transition and in the offensive zone, can play a shut down defensive game and is used to logging between 23-25 minutes per game. The Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are all potential fits for a deal.

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2. Matt Moulson

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Buffalo Sabres left winger Matt Moulson is the type of impact goal scorer who can take a team over the edge come playoff times, and many teams are taking note. Moulson is not an especially great skater nor truly physically imposing, but he knows how to position his 6-foot, 205-pound frame in front of the net and has the hands to put any scoring chances in the back of the net. With three previous 30 goal campaigns on his resume and 17 goals in the current season, many teams will be looking to take the 30-year-old for the rest of the season, with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins proving to be the most intriguing suitors.

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1. Thomas Vanek

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Despite just joining the New York Islanders midway through the current season, there is no doubting that Thomas Vanek will be moving prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. The Austrian is everything a team could want in a winger as he is big, physical and as pure of a goal scorer as they come. Of course the Islanders would love to keep Vanek and his perennial 35 goal campaigns, but he has refused all contract advances to date. The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks are amongst the many teams in the market for the 30-year-old's services.