For the fans, the All-Star weekend is a time to relax, let loose, and watch our favorite players play with our most feared rivals, all in the name of good clean fun. But, for the GM's, the All-Star Weekend is a time to set the table for potential blockbusters at the trade deadline.
Here's a list of the most common names rumoured around the NHL:
Olli Jokinen - I begin with him for a very specific reason. Jokinen is apparently fed up of the playing style offered in Florida, and his agent went so far as to say "We aren't demanding a trade, but we would definitely not get in the way of a deal being made." Jokinen would like to start WINNING, and really, who can blame him? This guy has never been to the post-season yet, and if his regular season play is any indication, he should pan out to be a lethal power foward center in the playoffs, with an uncanny ability to get goals on special teams. Jokinen is rumoured very strongly to go to either one of two teams, and oddly enough, they are both Eastern Conference teams. He is most favoured to go to Buffalo, where he would be a much needed and welcomed veteran presence. The Sabres have not been the same since losing star centers Briere and Drury, and the addition of Jokinen would do them a great deal of good, more so than most of the other NHL clubs. The other team reportedly strong in the running: The MONTREAL CANADIENS. The Habs are apparently heavily pursuing Jokinen, and that should be enough to get Habs fans extremely excited. Jokinen would be a very welcome faceoff man, besided the fact that he can dish out great passes, score clutch goals, and unload lasers from the point on the powerplay. No word yet on who the Habs would offer in return, but expect the demands for a proven performer such as Jokinen to be high.
Rob Blake: Blake has been on and off, denying, and then not denying rumours that he would be willing to waive his No Trade Clause to play for a contender. What he has made clear though is that he would be returning to L.A. in the off-season, which can't be good for Kings management, who will likely see a decrease in the quality of offers for the veteran. Rumoured destinations include Detroit, Chicago and New York.
Alex Tanguay: Rumours were hotter before, but Tanguay's name continues to be thrown around here and there. Flames GM Darryl Sutter was spotted scouting the Canadiens/Penguins game, adding fuel to a nearly dead fire once again.
Mats Sundin: Sundin is a heavily coveted asset for the Leafs, but in reality, they would be wise to give him up and bail on the season early. This team will NOT make a run for the cup, that's for certain, so why not deal him now, lose some games in the process to fall in the rankings and earn a higher draft pick, receive some quality talent (prospect & veteran) in return for Mats, and re-sign him the offseason? Sundin WILL be moved, and the front-runners are rumoured to be Calgary and Vancouver, with the Rangers remaining in the thick of things.
Speaking of the Rangers: Rumours are circulating that NYR are planning to make a multitude of deals, and teams are listening. The Sharks are rumoured to be eyeing one of the Rangers "high priced forwards", and I would not be the least bit surprised to see Jaromir Jagr moved. Also, apart from the interest in the players mentionned above, NY would be interested in J.M. Liles, David Vyborny, Jason Chimera, and moving D-man Marek Malik. The Rangers will be active this year.....are you surprised?
Marian Hossa: Rumours will circulate with Hossa until the deadline. His failure to get an extension with the Thrashers thus far should be taken as a sign that Hossa would likely prefer being moved to a contender, then testing his worth on the open market. Rumoured teams include Pittsburgh, San Jose and Detroit.
Brian Campbell: Contract talks have come to a halt between the star d-man and the Sabres, but all indications are that Campbell is willing to re-sign with the Sabres. As the deadline approaches, expect talks to resume. It was rumoured that Campbel and the Sabres were less than $1M away in negotiations, so expect them to settle. Should they not, for whatever reason, Campbell will then be moved, but expect that to be a deadline-day move, not a day sooner.
Vaclav Prospal/Dan Boyle: With the ownership change being priority, the Lightning will need to keep their star forwards Lecavalier and St.Louis, but may be willing to part with Dan Boyle or Vinny Prospal for the right offer, so long as they receive "equal or greater star-power players". GM Jay Feaster would like to keep everyone on board, but he will make a move if the team does not rebound in the near future. Also worth noting, the Dallas Stars have been scouting the Lightning's recent games, and in what may be the blockbuster of the year (should Jagr not move to San Jose), the rumour is that Dallas would ship out Marty Turco in exchange for Martin St.Louis, a deal that would help both teams with their priority needs. Frankly, I can, and can't see this happening...Dallas would like to take Turco into the playoffs as opposed to riding Mike Smith, but they have been coveting a top-line winger since this past off-season...that will be interesting to follow.
Markus Naslund: Naslund's name has been rumoured lately, though not as much as the other forwards mentionned above. Don't expect a Naslund move until both Peter Forsberg is signed and Mats Sundin is moved, as Naslund could play a key role in landing those fellow countrymen. The team most rumoured to be interested in Naslund? The Montreal Canadiens. I don't remember the last time I heard so many rumours about players coming to Montreal...
Patrick Marleau: Add him to Montreal's shortlist. The Habs have reportedly been in serious talks with San Jose all season, and the fact that Gainey and Wilson like doing business leads many to believe that these two clubs will strike a deal by the deadline.
The L.A. Kings: This is probably the only team right now that are certainly considered as sellers come deadline day. This team looks very solid on paper, but being in dead last is proof that the game is played on the ice. Every defenseman is available (barring Jack Johnson) and most forwards are available, excluding only Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Patrick O'Sullivan. Rumours have Michael Cammalleri being dangled as bait as well, but I wouldn't believe those rumours too quickly.
There are many other rumours out there, including names like Huselius, Kaberle, Commodore and Demitra, but there aren't enough sources to indicate which teams are interested, therefore I have chosen to ignore them for the time being.
Enjoy the All-Star festivities! The Skills Competition goes tonight, and the game goes Sunday night.