It's always tough to put much faith in rumors, but this offseason looks to be shaping up to be an interesting one. With the very shallow free agent pool, ways to improve your NHL team are limited to the draft and trades. There is a lot of speculation that a few "big names" will be on the move this offseason. But many GM's are reactionary and will be waiting for that first domino to fall. Once that happens, it could turn into circus with teams trying to keep up with other teams in the Division or Conference.
Some of the big names that are rumored to be available are Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo, Jarome Iginla, Tim Thomas, Patrick Marleau, and Joffrey Lupul. But which one is the first to be moved?
Jarome Iginla - Rumors of Iginla getting a new address with a "true" Cup Contender having been going on for the past couple of years. The Flames are a team in need of a rebuild, but they aren't bad enough for a top 5 pick and not good enough to make the playoffs. Also due to other moves made over the years, they are somewhat limited in regards to quality prospects. Some would suggest that trading Iginla would net a nice return and help Calgary turn the page on this chapter of Flames hockey. While he'll be 35 this summer, Iginla is still around a PPG player and someone that will score 30+ goals. He's also going in to the final year of his contract, so this summer might be the time?
Roberto Luongo - It appears that Luongo has been replaced in Vancouver and he is willing to accept a trade to certain locations. He is still a very good goalie and is one of those guys that seems to do better the more shots he sees. The problem is his contract is high and VERY long, especially considering his age. Whoever does acquire him, will have to be willing to pay him through 2022. It appears that the Florida teams and Toronto might be players for Luongo, but others could get involved.
Joffrey Lupul - Lupul is definitely not as "big" a name as the others on this list, but he had a big season. He was the only PPG player on this list last season and would also be the most affordable. He doesn't have the consistency of the other players and also comes with a lot of injury history. It's a little surprising that Toronto would move him, but he and their new coach supposedly don't have the best history. He only has one year remaining on his current contract and there will be questions whether he can repeat his 2011/2012 season.
Patrick Marleau - Marleau always seems to get a lot of the criticism in San Jose and that might spell his trade this summer. He has six 30+ goal seasons in the past seven and was part of Canada's Olympic Gold Medal Team, but some question his heart/leadership abilities. He did not have a good 2012 Playoffs, going pointless in five games. But he has normally been a pretty productive player during the Regular Season & Playoffs. He also can play both center & wing and has two years remaining on his contract. I'm sure teams would be interesting in Marleau, but his contract amount might limit some teams.
Rick Nash - It looks like Captain Columbus' patience has run out and he wants to move to a contender. He has generally always said the right things, but I think frustration has finally gotten to him. He is arguably the best power forward in the game and many teams would love to get him. But he can somewhat dictate where he goes and wherever he ends up will be taking a huge salary. He has five straight 30+ goal seasons and is a guy that can play in all situations. I'm sure Toronto, Vancouver, and the Rangers will all make pitches for Nash.
Tim Thomas - It's tough to argue with Thomas' success. He has been one of the top NHL goalies over the past couple of years, but his mouth this season could have written his ticket out of Beantown. He has a very unorthodox sytle, so a good defense in front of him will be key for continued success. He is also 38 and in the last year of his deal. If a team believes they are on the cusp and just needs a goalie, he might be an option. I would imagine that Chicago, Tampa, and Washington could show some interest.
So who do you think is the first to be moved? What the the likely destinations of these players? Who else could be on the move this offseason?