Seller's market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears

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Blackhawks Acquire Antoine Vermette


General managers, count your draft picks. In this trade market, they're valuable currency.

In the days leading to Monday's NHL trade deadline, draft picks have been moving at a swift pace. It's a seller's market and much more selling could be coming.

Already the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes have gotten first-round picks for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, Andrej Sekera and Antonie Vermette, and older players like Kimmo Timonen and Jaromir Jagr have fetched second-rounders and more.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall acquired second- and fourth-round picks from Chicago for the 39-year-old Timonen, who hasn't played this season.

"In the end they may have underpaid by a long shot for this deal," Hextall said during a conference call Friday night. "If Kimmo had played all year and we had moved him right now, this wouldn't have been the return. It would've been, I believe, far greater than this."

Teams that want rentals could look at Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart or goaltender Michal Neuvirth, Dallas Stars forwards Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff or even New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello.

Jeff Petry of the Edmonton Oilers and Zbynek Michalek of the Coyotes are the top pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen available, and the Leafs might even be able to get something for Korbinian Holzer.

If Washington general manager Brian McLellan wanted to deal pending free agent Mike Green, he might land a nice return. But with the Capitals contending, they're likely to hold onto him in hopes of a run. The acquisition of Curtis Glencross from the Calgary Flames on Sunday helps that cause.

The Capitals are far from the only team that believes it can go deep in the playoffs, and a wide-open East could set the table for a all sorts of deadline moves. The banged-up Boston Bruins would love to add someone, with center David Krejci out with a knee injury. The Montreal Canadiens could use depth on a team that has been carried largely to first place in the Atlantic Division by goaltender Carey Price.

In the West, the Blackhawks gave up a handful of picks to get Vermette from Arizona and Timonen from Philadelphia, using the salary-cap space created by the potentially devastating injury to star winger Patrick Kane. Adding them to the mix of buyers made the market even more competitive in the past week.

Teams like the Coyotes and Maple Leafs have more hope of landing Connor McDavid in the draft than a playoff spot. Toronto general manager Dave Nonis said he wasn't just going to "fire-sale people out," but he's listening.

"We need to get value," Nonis said. "I know from talking to other teams that they covet some of the players we have. If there are trades that make sense for us, we're going to do it."

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Seller's market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears
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