NHL teams will shop until they drop

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

The NHL's salary-cap era has changed the trade landscape.

Sergei Fedorov was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in an early cost-cutting move and the pre-playoff fire sale has already started in St. Louis, with the Blues shipping out their top two scorers in Doug Weight (Carolina) and Mike Sillinger (Nashville). But with so many teams on the post-season bubble and a March 9 trade deadline coming less than two weeks after the Olympics wrap up, not many franchises -- save for the Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals -- are ready to call it quits on the season.

Here's a look at the estimated salary-cap situation for each team, although exact tallies taking in injury relief and two-way contracts are unavailable.

Combined with each team's spot in the standings come March 9, their financial situation will determine whether they'll be buyers or sellers.

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CALGARY FLAMES

$34 million (Buyer)

With the cap wiggle room for a marquee player, expect GM/head coach Darryl Sutter to be a major player at the deadline.

Rumour has it he's still hoping to land Florida's Olli Jokinen. It might take a costly package of players and picks to do it with a handful of teams likely in the running. Defensive depth (an inexpensive veteran such as Blues D Eric Weinrich) and another skilled grinder in the Ville Nieminen mould should also be on the list.

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COLORADO AVALANCHE

$38 million (Buyer)

With some injury relief under the cap, the Avs may be able to replace Steve Konowalchuk before the deadline if the right player becomes available. They lost Ossi Vaananen, their plus/minus leader, to a broken ankle a couple of weeks ago and Rob Blake tweaked his groin before heading to Turin, so they could be scrambling to add a few more inexpensive healthy bodies.

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EDMONTON OILERS

$34 million (Buyer)

Goaltending has been the Oilers' problem all season long and they're no doubt still hoping to buy, rent or steal a serviceable No. 1 guy before the deadline passes. The problem is they're not alone in the bidding for players believed to be available, such as Boston's Andrew Raycroft, Buffalo's Martin Biron, or one of Minnesota's pending UFA 'tenders Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez. Another soon-to-be free agent, Coyotes veteran Curtis Joseph, has been linked to Edmonton recently.

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MINNESOTA WILD

$25 million (Seller)

The Wild have some good young prospects but need help at every position except between the pipes to become a contender. One of the future free-agent netminders might be moved. Starter Manny Fernandez has the most trade value. Calgarian C Wes Walz might be an attractive playoff-type addition. Defencemen Willie Mitchell, Filip Kuba and Andrei Zyuzin -- all UFAs after this season -- are likely to be moved.

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VANCOUVER CANUCKS

$38 million (Buyer)

Injury relief may knock their cap number down because of Dan Cloutier's lengthy absence. The Canucks are one of many franchises looking for veteran goaltending help but have been happy with Alex Auld's recent play. Other buyers may be able to bargain for W Todd Bertuzzi or C Brendan Morrison, who has been pulled off the Markus Naslund line in spurts.

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ANAHEIM M. DUCKS

$33 million (Seller)

The Ducks will probably wait until deadline day to deal. Unless they're in the ninth spot and playing well at the time, GM Brian Burke could make some waves. The solid play of backup G Ilya Bryzgalov could help the Ducks part with the more expensive and often streaky Jean-Sebastien Giguere. D Ruslan Salei and Keith Carney are both UFAs at the end of the season.

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DALLAS STARS

$39 million+ (Buyer)

The Stars have plenty of prospects on the wings and enough veterans to keep them honest in the playoffs. Their cap number is high but they won't have to make any moves as long as their defence corps gets healthy and their aging stars produce.

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LOS ANGELES KINGS

$36 million (Seller)

In the thick of the playoff hunt in a competitive conference, the Kings probably won't disrupt their roster too much. Goaltending has been a platoon effort this season and perhaps the Kings will package some picks in the hopes of a late upgrade.

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PHOENIX COYOTES

$32 million (Seller)

The loss of Ladislav Nagy hurts the team's chances of making the playoffs and, if they falter, veterans such as G Curtis Joseph, C Mike Ricci and defencemen Derek Morris, Sean O'Donnell and Denis Gauthier could be auctioned.

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SAN JOSE SHARKS

$28 million (Buyer)

The Sharks stood pat after last season and have made their big move with the acquisition of Joe Thornton in November. That said, the goalie factory that gave the Flames Miikka Kiprusoff could part with Vesa Toskala as Nolan Schaefer now waits for his chance to be a backup. Perhaps Patrick Marleau can be stolen from the Sharks for the right price.

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CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

$33 million (Seller)

The firesale has begun in St. Louis and the Jaroslav Spacek deal with Edmonton may signal the Blackhawks are following suit. Not even Nikolai Khabibulin is safe if a contender is willing to part with desirable prospects and picks.

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COLUMBUS B. JACKETS

$33 million (Seller)

When this team is healthy, it's extremely competitive, as Calgary and Edmonton found out in recent shootout losses to the Jackets. Expect them to stick it out with their players unless they get an offer too good to refuse for goaltender Marc Denis.

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DETROIT RED WINGS

$39 million+ (Seller)

The budget won't allow much in the way of an impact trade but the Wings could surprise at the deadline if they let one of their goaltenders or a defenceman go when D Niklas Kronwall -- coming off a lengthy layoff after knee surgery -- asserts himself. Robert Lang's name has recently come up.

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NASHVILLE PREDATORS

$32 million (Buyer)

C David Legwand is getting healthy and there aren't any glaring needs for this Western Conference heavyweight. It would take a sweet offer to make the Preds part with any of their young d-men or prospects.

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ST. LOUIS BLUES

$32 million (Seller)

They've already shipped out their top two scorers, Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger, and there's nothing to stop them from continuing their salary dumping. Keith Tkachuk ($2M for rest of season), Dallas Drake and/or Patrick Lalime could go.

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NEW JERSEY DEVILS

$39 million+ (Seller)

The Devils have forced their way into the playoff hunt after a slow start but don't have the cap space to make any deals that would add salary. They could look to swing a deal that dumps a little money but adds players for the playoffs. They'll try to move Alexander Mogilny and his $3.5M salary.

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NEW YORK ISLANDERS

$36 million (Seller)

They're on the outside looking in and could look to dump some players at the deadline if the playoffs are out of the question. They'd love to rid themselves of Alexei Yashin's $7.6M salary but more affordable players up for grabs include W Mark Parrish ($1.9M) and D Brent Sopel ($2.4M) and Brad Lukowich ($1M).

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NEW YORK RANGERS

$37 million (Buyer)

Their salary-cap situation limits what they can do but, with loads of talented scorers and a sensational rookie G in Henrik Lundqvist, a defensive upgrade or added depth on the back end would be wise. The Rangers could give up a young player like Marcel Hossa or G Al Montoya for a deal.

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PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

$39 million+ (Buyer)

The Flyers have had goaltending troubles in the playoffs. While rookie Antero Niittymaki has been good, a veteran backup would alleviate some of the doubt about backup Robert Esche. They could benefit from dumping one of D Mike Rathje ($3.5M) or Eric Desjardins (2.28M).

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

The Penguins are the perfect candidate for a complete roster overhaul that began with the retirements of Mario Lemieux and Ziggy Palffy.

Teams looking to add experience may be able to pick up W Mark Recchi or W John LeClair. Underachieving D Sergei Gonchar may also be available for the right price.

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BOSTON BRUINS

$37 million (Seller)

The Bruins are in a tight race for the final playoff spot in the East, a surprise to many after they traded Joe Thornton to San Jose. Even with the post-season in their sights, moving forwards such as Glen Murray, Sergei Samsonov and Alexei Zhamnov or G Andrew Raycroft could benefit them long-term.

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BUFFALO SABRES

$29 million (Buyer)

With a lot of room under the cap and an extra goaltender to offer one of the many teams desperate for help, the Sabres will no doubt be a major player. With C Daniel Briere still trying to make a comeback and fellow C Tim Connolly out at least a month, Buffalo could use some scoring help.

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MONTREAL CANADIENS

$36 million (Seller)

Jose Theodore's troubles continue. With their beleaguered starter now out six-to-eight weeks, the Habs could try to unload centres such as Mike Ribeiro and Radek Bonk, or wingers Jan Bulis, Niklas Sundstrom and Richard Zednik. If they quickly fall further from contention, all bets are off where Alex Kovalev is concerned, too.

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OTTAWA SENATORS

$36 million (Buyer)

The Sens have an abundance of offensive skill players and one of the best defence corps in the league. Their playoff hopes, though, hinge on the health of Dominik Hasek. Count the Sens as a team that should be looking for an experienced backup. Ottawa would also love a talented centre to complement Jason Spezza and have a lot of young wingers to offer in return. They're reportedly in the Olli Jokinen sweepstakes.

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TORONTO M. LEAFS

$36 million (Seller)

The Leafs are clinging to playoff hopes in the East but have been overachievers for much of the season. They've reportedly been trying to unload C Jason Allison all year and could afford to dump G Ed Belfour, a soon-to-be free agent, to the highest renter. Backup Mikael Tellqvist has given them a chance to win and they have a great prospect in Hitmen star G Justin Pogge.

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ATLANTA THRASHERS

$38 million (Seller)

Kari Lehtonen is back and the musical goalies game appears to be over but the Thrashers don't have much wiggle room under the cap. With a roster heavy on offensive talent, any deal would probably include bringing in a top-four defenceman. Marc Savard, Peter Bondra, Scott Mellanby and Slava Kozlov are all potential UFAs this summer, along with G Steve Shields.

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CAROLINA HURRICANES

$28 million (Buyer)

Plenty of room under the cap and a surprisingly competitive team means playoff revenue and more buying power for the 'Canes. They already snapped up Doug Weight but could use more experience, specifically in net. Martin Gerber and Cam Ward have done the job but neither has started a playoff game in the NHL.

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FLORIDA PANTHERS

$26 million (Seller)

Despite all the Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo rumours, the Cats don't want to trade their stars. But if they can't sign them to long-term deals, there's a good chance one of them could be moved. The Cats need D and future stars. They can afford to give up C Jozef Stumpel and veteran D Sean Hill, and hope for a bigger return on either W Martin Gelinas, W Gary Roberts or C Joe Nieuwendyk, to help rebuild.

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T. BAY LIGHTNING

$38 million (Seller)

They miss G Nikolai Khabibulin terribly and need a proven netminder on board if they want a legitimate shot at repeating as Stanley Cup champs. There aren't many of those available, though, so the price could be as high as Sean Burke and either Martin St. Louis or Brad Richards.

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WASHINGTON CAPS

$24 million (Seller)

The Caps don't have cap problems and have their centrepiece to build around in rookie phenom Alexander Ovechkin. They might have to sell off some of their veterans, such as D Brendan Witt and recently re-signed G Olaf Kolzig -- whose contract makes him an even more attractive commodity -- to playoff contenders in order to find complements for the young Russian. Everyone on this roster is fair game.

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NO ROOM TO BREATHE

SALARY CAP IS $39 MILLION. MEET YOUR BIG SPENDERS:

New Jersey: $39M+

Detroit: $39M+

Philadelphia: $39M+

Dallas: $39M+

Colorado: $38M

Vancouver: $38M

Atlanta: $38M

Tampa Bay: $38M


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