There is a certain yin and yang to the trade deadline furor.
All of the names that float about are interesting to debate, but they have to have a team with which to land to make the rumors anything more than white noise.
So, which teams should we be watching as the March 5 trade deadline draws near? Read on.
Los Angeles Kings
There is a certain déjà vu all over again with this season's edition of the Kings. It's a team that is meandering a bit, dealing with injuries and the obligatory offensive drought. Sound a bit like 2011-12? Yes. Yes, it does. The Kings rank 26th in goals per game and have been waiting for captain Dustin Brown (11 goals through Thursday) and Mike Richards (seven goals) to come around, but just like in 2012, it seems as though it's going to fall to general manager Dean Lombardi (and the Kings' ownership, of course) to ride to the rescue, as Lombardi did two years ago when he deftly acquired Jeff Carter from Columbus at the deadline.
A number of options are open to Lombardi, including Thomas Vanek and two former Kings prospects, Mike Cammalleri and Matt Moulson. Ryan Callahan is out there as well, and if anyone can play Darryl Sutter hockey, it's Callahan. The question is, how much will Lombardi give up? The obvious targets other GMs will covet will be Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey or Tanner Pearson, whom Lombardi has likened to young talent back in the day working their way through the Dodgers' system. Can the Kings make the playoffs without adding offense? Maybe. Can they maneuver their way through the treacherous Western Conference waters without more offensive oomph?
We mention the Penguins, but not because they're in trouble. They are in first place in the Eastern Conference and are going to win the Metropolitan Division in a walk, even though they've been dealing all season with a slew of injuries to key personnel. But GM Ray Shero never sits idly at the trade deadline. With Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang out long term, there are some places he would like to shore up, most notably a scoring winger who could play with Sidney Crosby (isn't that the position Shero tries to fill every year?). We like Matt Moulson as a fit, but really, who wouldn't fit with Crosby?
Our interest in the Penguins, though, has to do with Shero's plans for his goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury has had a terrific regular season and might actually garner peripheral Vezina Trophy discussion, but he also has had a few off performances in the postseason, including last spring, when he was replaced by Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun is just now skating after missing the entire season because of a blood clot, and his timetable is an unknown. That means Jeff Zatkoff is the current Plan B if Fleury falters. But what about Martin Brodeur or Tim Thomas, or someone else? Maybe Fleury regains his postseason form, the Pens go on a long run, and this becomes a huge non-story. Or maybe Plan B, however it plays out, becomes one of the stories of the spring, as it was last season when Vokoun was so solid in relief of Fleury to the Eastern Conference finals.