We're jumping out of the Olympic furnace and into the trade deadline fire.
Nary a beat has been missed since the end of the Sochi Games and the real start of the trade deadline frenzy. In the days leading up to Wednesday's deadline, names will be thrown about like so much confetti. Often it's much ado about nothing, and the trades that do get made don't guarantee success of any kind.
That said, here's a look at the 10 most intriguing names you'd better get used to hearing in the coming days.
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts' captain was miffed at not being selected to the original Canadian Olympic roster, and was likely still a little sore at being passed over four years ago. Many think St. Louis might have told GM Steve Yzerman (also executive director of Team Canada for the past two Olympics) that he'd rather not finish out his contract in Tampa. The two-time scoring champ has a no-move clause that complicates things. He has one year left on a deal that pays him $5 million in real dollars in 2014-15, down from $6.5 million this season. His cap hit is a manageable $5.625 million. If, as some reports suggest, St. Louis is interested in going only to the New York Rangers (he has a home in Connecticut), it's hard to imagine a deal gets done by the deadline, if at all. But if St. Louis is really tired of his time in Tampa, a bevy of teams would be interested in the services of a proven leader and playoff performer. The cost would be enormous, though, because the Lightning are a playoff team and would need to replace a top-line forward. If this happens, it'll be one of the few deals that actually deserves the term "blockbuster."
Our guess: St. Louis remains a Bolt until at least the draft.
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
This is a similar story to the St. Louis situation, with former Frank J. Selke Trophy winner Kesler seemingly ready to move on but the Canucks likely asking for maximum return value for a top asset, given that they're in the middle of the playoff picture. Still, as our good friend Pierre LeBrun reported some time ago, the Canucks are considering remaking themselves on the fly, so moving a core player in favor of younger assets fits the long-term plan. Kesler would be a Grade A acquisition for any team looking to make a long run, especially in the tough-as-nails Western Conference. The center has an injured hand that kept him out of Wednesday's win over the Blues, so that's an issue. He has two years left on a deal that pays him $5 million (same cap hit), and that number makes him more attractive to many teams, as opposed to being a straight rental player. He also has a no-trade clause, and a deal might be easier to do at the draft.
Our guess: Kesler stays in Vancouver, for the time being.