The NHL trade deadline is still nearly two months away, but that hasn’t stopped the incessant rumors about which players have been dangled as trade bait.
As the midway point of the NHL season looms, the contenders are slowly separating themselves from the pretenders, with a few teams caught in the grey area of neither being confirmed buyers/sellers.
In the pretenders group are the Colorado Avalanche, who have been rumored to be shopping everybody including the stick boy as they remain mired in the NHL basement and are out of the playoff picture, for all intents and purposes.
In the grey area are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who, while they are fun to watch, blow too many leads and leave points on the board. Same goes for the Detroit Red Wings, who have imperiled their quarter century streak of playoff appearance with mediocre play.
On the contender side, the Columbus Blue Jackets are a lock to make the playoffs and are making a run at the all-time winning streak, but still carry a few bad contracts they’d like to shed.
Here then, are 15 players (with three groups of two) who, depending on demand and fit, might be wearing different sweaters by season’s end.
Might as well start with likely the biggest fish in the trade rumor pond. Currently out with a lower body injury, Bishop is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and the Lightning would do well to maximize his return, because they could very well lose him in free agency and get squat. They also have a nice insurance policy in Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has held the fort admirably in Bishop’s absence. The Bolts have also recently recalled former NCAA standout Adam Wilcox from Syracuse, where his play has improved significantly from 2015-16 to now. So, which suitors could benefit from adding Bishop (who would have to waive his no trade clause, too), considering he will likely be a rental? Ottawa could be a destination, in that Bishop could help their playoff push measurably, freeing up no. 1 Craig Anderson to stay on his leave of absence to be with his cancer-stricken wife indefinitely. The LA Kings, who are barely making do with Jonathan Quick out, also have the cap space and currently hold the last wild card spot in the West.