The closer we get to March 2nd, the more rampant the speculation becomes regarding the many names currently occupying the National Hockey League's trade block. Which Cup contenders will make a move to bolster their roster for a deep run? Which bubble teams will take the plunge this year and mortgage the future with the hopes of going on a spring-time hot streak?
On the other end of the spectrum, which big names are cellar-dwelling teams willing to part with? Will any general managers shock the hockey world with an unexpected blockbuster deal?
The next few weeks will also dictate how many players there will be come deadline day. A streak of either variety over the next couple of weeks could sway a team to pull the trigger to bring in a rental or put up an unforeseen for sale sign.
No matter what happens leading up to deadline, the one thing that is certain is that the rumor mill will be on overdrive until the clock strikes 3:00 PM on March 2.
But what if the rumor mill was just that: a bunch of meaningless rumors? What if they were just fodder released into the news cycle by diabolical general managers and public relations spinsters looking to divert attention while the real deal-making takes place behind the scenes?
Some of the trades created below are ridiculous, improbable and probably tinged with of insanity. Then again, considering some of the stuff that will be floating around the Internet over the three weeks, this might seem quite normal to some of you.
And besides, what's more fun than wishful thinking?
*Please remember all of these are fictional and not based on rumours or reported news. And that these are all insane.
10 Justin Williams to the New York Islanders for Ryan Pulock and a 2nd Round Pick
Justin Williams is getting up there in age, and has never been a regular season star - but once the playoffs begin, there are few others who are as clutch as Williams.
Williams has built a reputation as a player who brings his best when it counts the most; a glance at his playoff stats show just how high he ratchets it up in the postseason.
9 James Van Riemsdyk to the Winnipeg Jets for Nikolaj Ehlers and a 1st Round Pick
8 Ryan O'Reilly to the Montreal Canadiens for Lars Eller, Sven Andrighetto, 1st Round Pick and a 3rd Round Pick
Montreal Canadiens fans, pundits and analysts alike have been clamoring for a big, scoring center for the past two decades. Part of the issue has been (and eventually permanently will be) resolved once Alex Galchenyuk moves to centre full-time. However, David Desharnais is not a long-term solution, and while Tomas Plekanec is still an effective player, he's closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning.
Lars Eller has been a bit of a disappointment in Montreal, while O'Reilly has supposedly been on the way out of Colorado for years. While the package might need to be sweetened a bit more to pry O'Reilly away from the Avalanche, it would be worth it - at 24 years old he's already proven to be a productive player and would fit right in the Habs top-three lines.
7 Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals for a 2nd Round Pick
Since his return to the National Hockey League, Jagr has played for a multitude of "random" teams - Jagr has looked good in all the uniforms he's been in, but none of them felt right.
6 Keith Yandle to Los Angeles for Tanner Pearson and a 1st Round Pick
The Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup in four years last summer, but they've looked like an average NHL team at best through the first 50 games of the regular season. The Kings seem to have a knack for this kind of thing - look mediocre for the majority of the season, make a run for a final playoff spot then obliterate the opposition on route to the Cup.
That might be a bit more difficult this year thanks to the ongoing Slava Voynov saga and the Alec Martinez injury, both leaving sizeable holes on the blueline.
5 Mike Green to the Detroit Red Wings for Tomas Jurco and Danny DeKeyser (contingent on Green signing a long-term deal)
Mike Green and the Red Wings are a match made in heaven. The Wings have some solid options on the back end, but besides Niklas Kronwall the Wings don't get much offense from the backend. Jurco hasn't lived up to his billing up to this point in Motown, and while DeKeyser is a tough one to let go of, slotting Green in his spot on the backend makes it worth it.
4 Eric Staal to the Calgary Flames for Mikael Backlund, Jon Gillies, Brett Kulak and a 2nd Round Pick
The Calgary Flames were supposed to be bottom-feeders this season, along with their neighbours in Edmonton. Instead, the addition of Jonas Hiller, the accelerated development of players like Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, the surprising duo of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, and the masterful coaching of Bob Hartley have turned the Flames into an upstart team and a legitimate playoff threat. One of their biggest holes remains at centre, as the rotating door on the second-line isn't going to stop anytime soon.
3 Evander Kane to Pittsburgh for Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington
Seems like it's not a big haul for Winnipeg, does it?
The Jets have lost almost all leverage in any deal involving Evander Kane - the entire league is aware of the bad blood brewing between the player and the entire organization, and the second Kevin Cheveldayoff gives an indication that the team has officially moved on from Kane, teams all over the league will be looking to snap him up.
The problem is that Kane himself wants out of the 'Peg - and much like Jason Spezza last summer, the Jets won't be able to get the king's ransom they would likely expect for him.
2 Phil Kessel to Tampa Bay for Nikita Kucherov, Andrej Sustr and a 1st Round Pick
BOOM. Our first blockbuster of the day. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are deadset on rebuilding, it's time to begin shipping out members of their "core." In a perfect world, Dion Phaneuf is the first one out the door, but Phil Kessel, who has been thrust into a leadership role he is not fit to fill, is another who needs a fresh start.
1 Jordan Eberle to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Saad, Teuvo Teravainen and a 2nd Round Pick
Remember that these are all ridiculous ideas meant to make you say "wow, can you imagine how crazy that would be?" - so go ahead and wonder what a line of Jordan Eberle, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would look like.
If you ask me, the Oilers are crazy to even let a conversation involving Eberle happen - if I was Craig MacTavish and Stan Bowman called me to ask about Eberle, I would hang up the phone immediately.
As we all know by now, though, the Oilers don't operate based on common sense and logic. Granted, Getting two solid roster players in Saad and Teravainen isn't a bad haul, but this team needs defense more than anything else. If this trade went down on deadline day, the hockey world would have all day to salivate over the possibilities for Chicago while simultaneously ripping the Oilers to shreds.
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