Perhaps more than any other year, the draft may be the least compelling portion of draft weekend. And that's no knock on Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Filip Forsberg or any other of the elite prospects.
This is the time of the year teams look to dramatically improve their teams, and since free agency has been minimized as teams aggressively retain their own potential free agents, NHL general managers will have to get creative in addressing needs.
The early part of this week has been quiet on the trade front, but that's expected to change.
"It's like the ice in a lake," said Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke following the Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas. "One big piece goes out, and other stuff starts moving. Right now, it's slow. Folks are waiting for that first trade."
It will happen.
Last year, it was Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren who broke the ice in trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in two monster deals that ultimately ended up having an impact on the Stanley Cup champions. Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi's championship reward for being aggressive in the trade market last summer should only embolden his fellow GMs this time around.
"A GM can be as aggressive as he wants, but it takes two to tango," Lombardi wrote in an e-mail on Wednesday. "Richards and Carter were available to allow someone to be aggressive. Who is out there that compares to them?"
The rumor mill has no shortage of candidates - Roberto Luongo, Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Jay Bouwmeester, Jordan Staal -- just to start. And those are just the names in public circulation. At this point last year, it would have been hard to find anyone who seriously anticipated a Richards trade.
It makes for a week of intrigue, with these questions some of the biggest heading into draft weekend:
Where will Rick Nash end up?
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