With the short season's unusual time frame pressuring teams on the playoff bubble, general managers are facing uncommon considerations as the trade deadline approaches this week. More teams are in contention than usual, so more teams have incentive to be buyers rather than sellers. Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames proved that it is very possible to make deals under these circumstances. Here are some questions that remain as we head toward the deadline:
MUIR: Updated trade rumor tracker
MUIR: Who has cap space to play with?
Do the Bruins have an Iginla replacement in mind?
If Boston was trying to lure Jarome Iginla to the TD Garden and had even been told by the Flames that a deal was done, what will the Bruins do now? Perhaps nothing. Two years ago during the run-up to the Feb. 28 deadline, they acquired frowards Chris Kelly (Feb. 15) and Rich Peverley (Feb. 18) and defenseman Tomas Kaberle (Feb. 18) en route to the Stanley Cup. Kelly proved to be a valuable depth acquisition, but Kaberle failed to boost Boston's power play, then watched his minutes dwindle as the playoffs wore on. GM Peter Chiarelli has lamented the cost of getting veteran players, but his griping could just be a Chiarelli charade. Boston still has prospects Matt Bartkowski and Aleksander Khokhlachev available for an eleventh-hour swap, but this is a team that seems satisfied with Tuukka Rask in goal and has a top defense pair in Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, plus great balance up front. Last season, the Bruins sported six 20-goal scorers, two 15-goal scorers and two other players in double digits, but did not have a single 30-goal man, so they don't necessarily need a high-powered star to bolster the ranks.
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Will the Flames keep dealing?
Now that Calgary has added a late first-round pick and prospects Ken Agostino and Ben Hanowski in return for Iginla, how can the Flames keep getting younger and hungrier? For the right price, teams might be able to part with slices of their futures in return for forward Mike Cammalleri. The scoring forward is only 30 and four years removed from a 39-goal campaign during his first stint with Calgary. He has a year left on his $6 million contract, so he is likely available. With the Maple Leafs probably turning into buyers, especially for a center, they could be an option. Miikka Kiprusoff is 36, his numbers this year (6-9-2; .873; 3.52) have slipped, and he was thought to be a quick help for a team seeking a veteram goalie -- until reports surfaced that he's said that he will not report to any team to which he is traded. Nevertheless, the Leafs supposedly remain interested. And the Blues landed defenseman Jay Bouwmeester on Monday night. The Flames missed their chance to get maximum value for Iginla a year or two ago. Unfortunately, most of their present roster has seen its best days.
MUIR: Bouwmeester trade a bad deal for Flames
Who are the best available goalies?
Remember the 2010 gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada at the Vancouver Olympics? Both goaltenders in that historic contest, Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo, have been the subject of trade rumors for weeks if not months. Miller was probably the best player at those Olympics, but he hasn't had much playoff success since. He's also been openly critical of his team's effort this season, which is a no-no in the all-for-one, one-for-all hockey world. That kind of discontent usually precedes a trade. Luongo was a whipping boy even before his poor showings against Boston in the 2011 Cup final. With the albatross of his long-term contract (he has nine years left on his 12-year deal with an annual value of $5.333 million) and his age -- at 33, he's six years older than Cory Schneider, Luongo is ripe for a trade. "[GM Mike Gillis] is in discussion with multiple teams," Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman told TSN. "Talks are beyond the 'tire kicking' stage...We need a third-line center, but no one is going to steal Roberto from us. We're not moving him for a rental. We need something for today and tomorrow."
What do the Senators do?
Three months ago, this would have been an easy answer: shop Daniel Alfredsson so he gets the Ray Bourque treatment -- now we can say the Jarome Iginla treatment -- that he deserves at the end of his spectacular career. But unlike Bourque during his final days with Boston or Iginla with Calgary, Alfredsson is playing on a team that's hanging tough in the thick of the playoff race despite key injuries. Last season, the surprising Senators reached the postseason as the No. 8 seed and nearly won their first-round series against the Rangers. If they're going to deal anyone, the name that has come up most often is goalie Ben Bishop, but GM Bryan Murray has said that although he is interested in Dallas Stars forwards Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr, he doesn't expect to make any significant deals. "I know that we're not doing much ... if anything," Murray told the Ottawa Sun. "I keep watching the team and I'm fairly happy with our young people with the way they've played. If something comes up that is of interest, we'll certainly explore it."
Are the Sharks still sellers?
San Jose has had a season in three parts. The Sharks started off 7-0, faltered, and started to come on again. No team has enjoyed as much success over the last 10-to-15 years without reaching the Stanley Cup Final, so GM Doug Wilson has to decide if he thinks this year's team has what it needs to get that far. He's already shipped defenseman Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh for a pair of second-round picks, and dealt center Michal Handzus to Chicago for a fourth-round pick. Then there's Ryan Clowe, 30, who has averaged more than 20 goals per season during the past four years. Clowe's touch has disappeared and he's in the last year of a contract that pays him $14.5 million. Coach Todd McLellan has tried him on several different lines, but Clowe has failed to score a goal during the club's first 28 games. Yet, he is still as feisty as ever. He has 79 penalty minutes and would fit in with a club that's trying to add some moxie for playoff time. Dan Boyle could also be an enticing catch for any number of teams that are looking for defensive depth.
Is Gabby a goner?
Marian Gaborik is one of the NHL's most skilled forwards. He's twice scored 40 goals in a season, but he's a bad mismatch for caoch John Tortorella's defense-first approach to the game. Gaborik is not a shot-blocker nor is he a big hitter along the sideboards. At 31, he's signed through 2013-14. If a club wants a proven scorer and is able to give him to an extension, he could be a good addition on a strong defensive team that is looking for a sniper. tThe Rangers could use some help -- who couldn't? -- on the backline especially after the scary eye injury suffered by Marc Staal.
Does Jagr stay in Dallas?
Jagr still has a zest for the game, but he isn't likely to win the Cup in Dallas. He recently picked up his 1,000th career assist, becoming just the 12th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. (Side note: Ray Whitney also picked up an assist on the play, a goal by Jamie Benn, which meant that nearly 2,900 combined career points pitched in on the tally.) At 41, Jagr leads the Stars in goals (14), power-play goals (6) and points (26), so he would be a good fit for a contender that is looking to add a sniper. The Stars are on the playoff bubble, so if they feel they can get in and reap some financial benefit from a couple of home playoff games, they may stand pat. SI.com's Allan Muir, who lives in Dallas, said his sources told him that the Stars have been working to keep Jagr, who got a one-year, $4.55 million deal during the summer. Jagr has been talking about signing an extension to return, and he could wait until the deadline if the Stars don't move him and he has a good feeling about another year in Big D. "If I play bad, I don't want to hurt the team," he said last week. GM Joe Nieuwendyk has already shipped Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh, so Jagr or Derek Roy could be next.
Do the Capitals buy or sell?
This was an easy one before Washington went to Winnipeg on March 21 and swept the Jets on their home ice in a pair of games. Now the Caps are not only back in the playoff chase, they could contend for another Southeast Division crown. Forward Mike Ribeiro is excellent trade bait because he can produce offensively and his contract is about to expire, but GM George McPhee may be thinking that other No. 7 and 8 seeds have made splashes in the playoffs before and his team is capable of doing the same. Don't expect a fire sale.