Nov 21, 2016; Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly (52) defends St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) during a NHL game.

Ice Chips: Ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline

This is Derek Stepan’s 7th season with the Rangers. Wednesday will be the his 7th deadline with a team that has always been active on or around the NHL trading deadline. Since 2010, the team has acquired 12 players on or within days of the deadline. Most notable acquisitions include: Martin St. Louis from Tampa in 2014; Keith Yandle by Arizona in 2015; and a season ago, getting Eric Staal from Carolina.

Stepan, who’s seen it all when it comes to this time of year has a good idea of what to expect.

“I don’t think it will be different than any other deadline,” Stepan said Saturday after the Rangers 4-3 OT victory over the Devils. “I feel fairly confident that there will be little moves here and there–maybe a big move out of a team here, but I think it’s going to be a pretty typical deadline.”

The question for 2017: Will the Blueshirts again mortgage part of their future–cupboards already bare–for a chance to chase a cup at what looks to be the end of a cup window?

If the answer to that question is yes, then it at least starts with a conversation involving Blues’ defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk. The 28-year old right-handed blueliner and Greenwich, N.Y., native is in the final season of his contract and it’s becoming apparent that he is in the final stretch of his time in St. Louis.

Despite being a playoff contender, the Blues have been decimated by July 1st lately. They lost David Backes and Troy Brouwer (acquired last offseason for T.J. Oshie) and can’t afford to lose another for nothing. This also doesn’t feel like the Western Conference finalist team from a year ago. That of course won’t be publicly stated by G.M. Doug Armstrong, but it has to be a factor.

What’s the price for New York the week of the deadline? Most believe the Blues will be looking for a first round pick and prospect for the coveted defenseman with 42 points on the season–20 on the power play. If the Rangers do make a deal involving their first, it’ll mean their fifth-straight draft without a first round pick. Is Sean Day or Ryan Gropp the prospect asked? That’s a steep price, but then you see what’s been the price tag so far.

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Yes, it’s a seller’s market. If only there were some sellers.

Heading into the final stretch before Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST., the East is tight. Just two teams are more than 10 points out of a playoff spot–Carolina and Detroit, who have both decided they are sellers. The Canes shipped Ron Hainsey to Pittsburgh for a second round pick and Danny Kristo on Thursday; meanwhile the Red Wings moved Tomas Jurco to the Blackhawks for a third.

Out West the Avs and Coyotes have been out of it since Christmas. Rookie G.M. John Chayka has already gotten out in front of it all, trading Michael Stone to the Flames last week and sending Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to the Wild on Sunday for a first and second round pick to go along with AHL forward, Grayson Downing.

Dallas and Vancouver are in the next tier of teams that should be selling off. The Stars have already dealt Patrick Eaves to Anaheim for a conditional second and have six pending UFA’s including Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. The Canucks haven’t made any deals yet, but Alex Burrows and Ryan Miller have reportedly been asked to waive their No-Trade clauses.

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Most people believe this year’s deadline will be filled with rentals as opposed to actual “hockey deals.”

That would mean the likes of Matt Duchene and/or Gabriel Landeskog become summer deals as opposed to something in the around-the-corner future.

If though there was a team willing to engage in a ‘hockey trade,’ who might it be?

I have a guess–Tampa. The Lightning are 7 points out and while Steven Stamkos is skating, it might be best to put this year on the back burner. They dealt Ben Bishop to the Kings on Sunday, which could be considered a seller’s move, but there was never a doubt that Andrei Vasilevskiy was going to be the starter and goalie protected in the expansion draft.

Speaking of which–among the perks offered to the expansion Golden Knights is their ability to offer sheet restricted free agents without having to provide compensation. That could threaten the Lightning, who have four major RFA’s up after this season in Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr. Victor Hedman’s new deal kicks in next season and has a $7.8 million cap hit.

Life would be pretty hard on Bolts’ GM Steve Yzerman if one of the four were to sign an offer sheet that was valued over $5.5 million annually. A non-bridge deal at that.

So maybe, the option exists to consider moving out one of them–Johnson or Palat before the other two and add in some futures. Like most deals involving non-rentals, this could be a better bet for the summer.

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Do you think Flyer fans secretly want Marc-Andre Fleury?

It’s not going to happen, but the duo of Steve Mason a Michal Neuvirth isn’t great. They’re boasting .900 and .887 save percentages, respectively. That’s just not good enough and I’d suspect Ron Hextall is looking to upgrade, but likely not until the season is over. Do we sense a pattern here?

If I had to put a percentage on Fleury being dealt–it’s 80-40 if the team getting him is Calgary. If it’s Dallas–or anyone else, I’ll put the percentage at 40-60 he stays in Pittsburgh for the rest of the season.

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Good to see Ryan Carter, who has won a Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Ducks, sign a one-year contract with his home state Wild. Carter each of the last two seasons with Minnesota but after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery he mulled retirement. If he’s healed, he can be a real nice energy guy to have around in the postseason. Remember his 2012 run in New Jersey? Five goals in 23 games after having four all season long.