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Just the beginning: Expect flurry of trades over the next week

Image (1) Spezza-thumb-200x300-14084.jpg for post 2155

The Nashville Predators and their two big trades today likely broke the ice for the NHL as we gear up for the NHL draft next weekend and then the start of free agency right after that. With the free agency pool not as good as it’s been in the past, many are speculating that this could be the busiest period for trades in the NHL since the lockout as teams jockey for upgrades while battling roster and salary cap limitations.

Since the free agency pool is limited, those on the open market will likely demand a high price, leading teams to try and save money by making trades to upgrade their team. The question is, who will be next to be traded and which teams are likely to be the busiest?

There is no doubt that Nashville isn’t done yet, as their two trades leave the team with an insane amount of space under the salary cap with 17 players already under contract. With Jason Arnott headed to New Jersey, the Predators are now in dire need of a top line center; they still have pieces that can be moved and the cap space to pick up a large contract. Jason Spezza has been a name that keeps coming up, and the Predators have made the moves necessary in order to be able to take on his $7 million a year contract.

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun seems to think that Tim Thomas will be the next goaltender to be traded, saying that “as teams gather for the draft in Los Angeles next week, expect Thomas to be at the top of the most wanted list for GMs seeking help in goal.”

The issue there is that Thomas is set to make $5 million next season, is 36 years old and had a woefully mediocre season last year; you have to wonder if there are better options out there for teams looking to acquire a goaltender this summer.

Despite the lack of a great free agent market this summer, there are a number of experienced and talented goaltenders set to become UFAs in two weeks. With not that many teams in dire need of a starting goaltender, teams like Philadelphia or San Jose can wait and have their pick without giving up any assets for a player like Thomas.

You can also guarantee that teams like Chicago, Calgary, Ottawa and perhaps even Detroit will be needing to dump some salary over the next week or so, while other teams like Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal and the New York Rangers could be buyers. Other teams, such as Florida, will be looking to retool and rebuild and could be shopping some of their top players as they hope to restock their system moving forward.

This is as close to another trade deadline as we’ll ever get, as teams fight for space under the salary cap in order to prepare their rosters for next season.