Ah yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year. It's almost time for trade deadline day, which has the fireworks of July 4th and anticipation of Christmas all rolled into one. March 4th is the day and 3 PM ET is moment when the rosters freeze. Today, I'll try to shed some light on who may be going and who may be staying.
Buy: Jay Bouwmeester not relocating. The Florida Panthers have struggled mightily for most of the decade. They looked poised for a playoff run this spring, and given how tightly packed things are in the East, they could have a decent seeding when everything is said and done. To do that, they're going to have to hold onto Bouwmeester, their best defender and UFA-to-be. Despite the risk of losing him for nothing during the summer, it might be a risk the Panthers will have to take. Unless, of course, they're presented with a deal they can't refuse.
Buy: Prepare for a wacky deadline day out West. This year's deadline may be a bit different in the Western Conference than usual. Right now the Coyotes and Blues are tied for 13th place and are both only five points out of a playoff spot. It's going to be interesting to see how many teams give up on the playoff run out west, if any. We've still got a little under two weeks until the deadline, so someone will likely fall off the pace by then. But, personally, I think a lot of teams are going to go for broke and either hang onto their current squad or make a move to try and put them over the top. There really aren't any clear cut sellers out west just yet, so it could create a lot of buyers, which would be music to the ears of those teams already out of the playoff picture in the east.
Sell: Chris Pronger staying with the Ducks. Some of the biggest trade rumors have centered around Anaheim's Chris Pronger and many teams rumors of this magnitude have some teeth to them. Pronger would be a huge addition to any team that picks him up, and if the Panthers choose to hold onto Bouwmeester, he would easily be the best defender on the market. The Ducks also have to weigh their options with him. He does have another year left on his deal, but could return a lot of picks and talent to Anaheim. The other side of the coin is that Pronger is Anaheim's only defender under contract for next season. Yikes.
Buy: Brian Burke going into tear down mode in Toronto. This Leafs team has not played well at all and won't be losing many players too free agency -- they've got 16 already under contract for next year for $41 million. I'd expect to see more than one player moved to give him more flexibility in the off-season.