With the emphasis on off-the-field entertainment growing with each passing year, leagues around North America have found their television niche in one way or another.
The NFL has nearly perfected the hype train they send off every February, with the NBA being a close second. The same goes for events like the NFL Combine or the various fantasy All-Star Drafts conducted over the past couple of seasons.
When it comes to trade deadlines, though, nobody does it like the National Hockey League.
Each year, months of speculation builds up to one glorious 8-10 hour TV special involving an excessive number of panelists, trades breaking every five minutes, and a nerve-racking wait to the clock striking 3:00 PM, where more deals trickle through at the last minute.
This season the trade deadline will most likely be lacking the star power of years past. Tradecentre 2014 (the term coined by TSN for the big day) featured big names like Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Ryan Miller, Marian Gaborik and Martin St. Louis. Tradecentre 2015 will lack the starpower of last season's deadline, but the anticipation and speculation leading up to the big day will certainly match that of last year - if not exceed it.
While teams won't be able to load up on big-time talent - barring an unforeseen blockbuster - they will be able to add some significant pieces for a playoff run. With the "sellers" and "buyers" mostly established already (even though we're about three weeks away from March 2nd), players around the league are preparing to ship off from an underperforming team to a playoff contender - or cringing that they might be the piece to lure a rental from a bottom-feeding team. The following names represent the former: the players who are most likely to be moved on Deadline Day.
15 Curtis Glencross, Calgary Flames
Glencross, who's had a decent season for the Flames so far, looks like he'll be on the move come Trade Deadline Day. He recently admitted, according to the Calgary Sun, that he has submitted a list of places he'd like to be traded to. The 32-year-old left winger is in the last year of his contract, and although the Flames are hovering around the playoffs, management is smart enough to realize that this team is not ready for showtime and will try to get some assets in exchange for the solid left winger.
14 Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs' struggles over the past two months have been well documented, and no one has been under fire more than captain Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf's welcome in Toronto has seemingly worn out for good, and the Leafs latest woes have only further angered the Toronto mob. While Phaneuf could be an asset coveted by a Cup contender, his massive (practically immovable) contract will make it difficult for the Leafs to be able to move him out of town and end an era of Maple Leafs hockey that many would like to forget.
13 Zbynek Michalek, Phoenix Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes have bluntly stated that they are essentially done with 2014-2015 and are looking towards the future. The possibility of a lottery pick - meaning the possibility of selecting one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel - combined with the influx of young talent in the pipeline (including Canadian World Juniors hero Max Domi) means GM Don Maloney is in a position to sell off anyone and everyone. Zbynek Michalek is a big right-handed defensive presence who can certainly help a team looking to shore up the back end for a deep playoff run.
12 Olli Jokinen, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Buds recently acquired Olli Jokinen recently in a trade that saw them send Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to Nashville for a first round pick, a prospect and Olli Jokinen. Jokinen was put into the trade as Nashville needs to send some money back to the Leafs to make it work. Jokinen has looked solid in his few games with the Leafs and will likely be flipped to a contender in a deadline deal, as the Leafs have no plan to keep Jokinen in the future.
11 Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators
Chris Neil is a lifer - a guy who spends his entire career shedding blood, sweat and tears for the same franchise. Neil has expressed his desire to stay in Ottawa, but if the Senators have teams calling for one of the league's top grinders (and aggravators), they'd be remiss not to listen. Neil can help the bottom 6 of a strong roster - he even has some powerplay touch, and can post up in the crease with the man advantage to provide a screen, making him a valuable asset for a good team.
10 Chris Stewart, Buffalo Sabres
Chris Stewart has been on the trade block since the season began in October. Stewart is far from the player who scored 28 goals in 2009-2010, but with half-decent linemates he might be able to catch fire and provide some timely scoring for a Cup contender. Stewart is nowhere near his career highs - playing on a putrid Buffalo roster will do that to a guy - so an upgrade in linemates and the motivation of a big summer contract will make him a hot commodity come March 2.
9 Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers
The Rangers are in a tough spot here. They're firmly in a playoff spot and will be hoping to make their way back to the Stanley Cup Finals come spring time. However, the Rangers are gonna be close to the cap next year and likely won't be able to re-sign Zuccarello, who's an UFA next year, for the amount of money he'd like. If they can find a hockey deal for someone who wants Zuccarello going forward, they'd have to consider it, so they don't lost him nothing in the summer.
8 Erik Cole, Dallas Stars
Cole picked a good time to go on a little hot streak, and with a lot of names already off the board, Cole may become a hot commodity at the deadline. With the Stars sitting on the outside of the playoffs at the moment, and with an injury to Tyler Seguin making their prospects looks bleak, the Stars might as well move Cole to get something in return. He's been playing on a line with Jason Spezza and Jamie Been recently, and has been showing that he can still be productive with the right fit.
7 Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets
Although he's only going to be an RFA at the end of the season, Atkinson's name keeps popping up in trade rumors. The streaky right winger broke the twenty goal plateau a season ago and is on pace to break that mark again (barring any health issues). Thanks to nearly a million man games lost for the Blue Jackets this season, they sit firmly outside of a playoff spot and it's rumored that the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalance are pondering a move for the young sniper. It'll take a nice package to pry him out of Colombus as he's an RFA and the Jackets still would have control of him past this season.
6 Mike Green, Washington Capitals
Mike Green is perhaps the most intruiging name on this list. Once a perennial Norris contender, Green has fallen off in Washington and has had to take a back seat to John Carlson and Karl Alzner. No one is going to confuse Green for Drew Doughty or Shea Weber, but his offensive abilities cannot be ignored. A good defensive team would be wise to add Green on their backend to have some extra firepower during a long playoff run.
The Detroit Red Wings come to mind as a team that could reap huge benefits by adding Green. Imagine a powerplay that had Green, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Nyquist and Kronwall? Scary stuff.
The only issue here is that Washington is not a seller - they're just saddled with a significant player who can be an integral part of a playoff run this year, while not necessarily being in the team's long-term plans. Will they hold on to him and go for broke this year, or look towards the future?
5 Michael Ryder, New Jersey Devils
There are a few positives in the favor of teams trying to acquire Michael Ryder. His cap hit is $3.5 million and he's a Stanley Cup winner. On top of that, he's an UFA at the end of the year, so it doesn't require much of a commitment into the future. While he's nowhere near his career high in goals this year (he scored 35 in 2011/12), he can still give you some valuable power play time and a right-handed shot from the wing. Also, let's not forget that he was one of Boston's best players in their run to the cup in 2010/11, scoring 17 points in 25 games.
4 Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche
Ryan O'Reilly is not your traditional trade deadline trade bait - he's got a year left on his deal and is a significant part of a team that is still hoping to make a run at a wild card playoff spot. If the Avs drop off any further, they might be more inclined to move the big, young center - and if O'Reilly truly is available, teams will be lining up to grab him, including teams that might not make the postseason this year.
3 Jeff Petry, Edmonton Oilers
Leave it to the Oilers to weirdly handle this situation, as they've done with every other situation they've had over the last few years. They have one quality defender on their roster and that's Jeff Petry, yet they didn't try to extend him for the longest time, according to The Edmonton Journal. According to Dreger, they've recently reached out, but it's likely too late for them. Petry is an UFA at the end of the year and likely wants to move to a contender to augment his value. The most likely destination appears to be Montreal, who currently have two injured regular defenders and a hobbled P.K. Subban.
2 Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes
Keith Yandle, like O'Reilly, still has a year left on his deal, so he might intrigue more than just the big-time Cup contenders. At 28 years old, Yandle still has plenty of gas left in the tank. If there's a team out there that believes they can lock him up long-term, they might take a chance and make a move for him now while the asking price is still relatively cheap. Considering the imminent fire sale in Arizona, teams would be wise to pitch their best offers to Don Maloney now, as opposed to waiting for the Draft to try and pick up the mobile defenseman.
1 Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes
He may be the most talented player on this list. At the same time, he may be the most inconsistent and frustrating. This is a guy that's scored more than 30 goals three times and even cracked the 40 goal mark once. Here's the major problem: he's in the second year of a five year deal that pays him $7 million a year. Yikes. Apparently Carolina is willing to pay a huge chunk of that salary and there might be some lower budget teams that would love his huge cap hit and the fact that they wouldn't have to pay most of it.