NHL Trade Deadline: The Top Players In The Rumor Mill

The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and teams are beginning to assess their plans for the future of their organizations. February 29th is the deadline and with less than a week remaining before the deadline hits, the rumor mill is running full circle. Predicting the possible moves of every franchise is a near impossible task, and there are so many different variables that go into every single trade or acquisition decision made be an NHL franchise. These variables include the team’s current position in the NHL standings, their position in terms of cap space, a player's fit in terms of chemistry and most importantly the strengths and weaknesses of a given club's roster. As always there is plenty of speculation this time of year with many names and trade possibilities being thrown around. Let's take a look at five players who are likely to be moved before the trade deadline passes.

Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets

With the Winnipeg Jets well out of a playoff spot and only 22 games remaining on their schedule the rumors continue to circulate about the Jets trading away defenseman Andrew Ladd. Though Ladd holds the chips as his contract currently includes a no trade clause, there are several possibilities that could entice the winger to waive it, including a trade to a potential Stanley Cup playoff contender. Ladd is Winnipeg's captain and his size and physicality would be perfect for a team looking to make a deep run in the NHL playoffs. The Jets on the other hand could free up cap space and retain some quality pieces to improve them in the long run.  It's a move that could benefit both Winnipeg as well as the right suitor.

Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

Eric Staal has spent his entire NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes and there are indications that he would like to stay there, however he also represents a quality bargaining tool for the Hurricanes to dangle as the trade deadline approaches. Staal's best years may be behind him but he is still a quality player with size and the ability to put the puck in the net. Carolina is now five points out of a playoff spot and they'll have to make a decision on what they value more, trying to make the playoffs or concentrating on the long run equity of their team. Staal holds a no trade clause but nonetheless the possibility of his being moved is at an all-time high with plenty of playoff contenders looking to add a veteran presence who can put the puck in the net.

Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the most frequently cited teams in the trade deadline rumor mill and several sources have confirmed that the Flyers are looking to move certain players. Veteran defenseman Mark Streit is among the names mentioned and there is a chance that Streit could be moved before the end of the trade deadline. The 38 year old defenseman is still a valuable commodity and could help provide stability to a team looking to make a playoff run. Streit has only one year remaining on his contract and at four million dollars a season, he's not bad value for a team that would benefit from the added depth defensively. Streit has 12 points in 39 games and has failed to score a point in his last five games however it shouldn't hurt his value too much.

Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been making headlines recently for their tumultuous relationship with young winger Jonathan Drouin, who was the third overall pick in last season's draft. Drouin had a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign but there is no doubt that the superstar potential is there for the 20 year old Drouin once he becomes accustomed to the pace and play of the NHL level. Drouin's disdain for his current situation is no secret and the Lightning may look to move him for some key pieces, as they'll hope to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. If the Lightning agree to trade Drouin there are several potential suitors, including the Montreal Canadians who could definitely use Drouin's scoring potential in their lineup.

Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres are having a rough season and Tyler Ennis's inability to get on the score sheet this season is one of the main reasons why. Tyler Ennis lead the Buffalo Sabres in scoring last year with 46 points. And he has proven in the past at least, that he can put the puck in the net scoring 20 plus goals in three different seasons. Ennis has the speed to add to an already established lineup looking to make a playoff push. He is a bit of a risk at this point because of his poor play this season however a change of scenery could do him some good. Ennis currently has three years remaining on his contract, at 4.6 million a season. If he gets back to his old ways he could definitely be of service to a team that needs a scoring punch on their second line.