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Seller's market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears

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
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Boston Red Sox players participate in drills during a Spring Training workout at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida on February 19, 2015. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - FEBRUARY 19: Chris Hawkins #11, Trahson Burrell #0, Calvin Godfrey #40 and Pookie Powell #3 of the Memphis Tigers celebrate from the bench against the Connecticut Huskies on February 19, 2015 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis defeated Connecticut 75-72. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
SANYA, CHINA - FEBRUARY 18: In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Team Alvimedica, Seb Marsset drives south as equatorial clouds begin to appear on the horizon in every direction, the first signs of ITCZ convergence and volatility during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland on February 18, 2015 in Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews. (Photo by Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: Troy Bayliss of Australia rides the #21 Aruba.it Racing-Ductati Superbike Team Ducati Panigale R during the practice session for the World Superbikes World Championship Australian Round at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on February 20, 2015 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
MALMESBURY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: A skateboarder jumps from a ramp that has been erected inside the 12th century former Benedictine Malmesbury Abbey on February 18, 2015 in Malmesbury, England. For the seventh year running the abbey's interior has been transformed into a skatepark which will welcome youngsters from across the south west for three days to try the variety of ramps, quarter pipes, grinding rails and trick boxes underneath the famous Norman vaulted stone ceiling. . (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
FALUN, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 22: Irina Avvakumova of Russia competes in the Mixed Team HS100 Normal Hill Ski Jumping during the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at the Lugnet venue on February 22, 2015 in Falun, Sweden. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 18: Shanne Braspennincx of the Netherlands Cycling Team competes in the Women's Team Sprint qualifying round as her coach yells during day 1 of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships held at National Velodrome on February 18, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Jun-Ho Kim of Korea competes in the Men's 500m on day one of the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships at Stegny Ice Rink on February 20, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield - ISU/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Cam Talbot #33 of the New York Rangers stops a shot in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks on February 19, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.The Vancouver Canucks defeated the New York Rangers 5-4 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: An athlete competes in the Challenge Wanaka on February 22, 2015 in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 20: Paul Millsap #4 defends as Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks blocks a shot by Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on February 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND - FEBRUARY 21: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Team China compete in the Women's Team Sprint during day two of the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships at Stegny Ice Rink on February 21, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield - ISU/Getty Images)
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