With the NHL general managers meetings later this month in Naples, Florida, expected to have considerable impact on the activity at this year's trade deadline - and the quality of the players that might be available - we've compiled a list of the ten most compelling players potentially available on or before February 26.
10. We start with Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin. Cliff Fletcher's dance card at the GM's meeting will be full. The pressure point for the player and the general manager comes after February 20, and the potential of an offer the Maple Leafs can't refuse.
9. Buffalo defenceman Brian Campbell may also be available. Buffalo learned a valuable lesson from the failure to sign Daniel Briere or Chris Drury, and rival GM's believe the Sabres will have to maximize the asset this time by moving Campbell.
8. An equally delicate scenario surrounds Atlanta's Marian Hossa with NHL execs wondering if Thrashers GM Don Waddell won't try to salvage the year, and exhaust all opportunities to sign his star winger before trading his negotiating rights at or before the draft in June.
7. Florida's Olli Jokinen is one of those guys, as a big, strong and durable centre, who is drawing interest from all corners of the NHL. One general manager stated, "I'd love to make a play for Olli Jokinen, but I can't get a hold of Jacques Martin, and he won't return my calls."
6. The Alex Tanguay watch continues in Calgary. The Flames have been shopping Tanguay for months. His $5.3 million salary for this year and next is scaring some people, although if Calgary can sweeten the pot, a Jokinen for Tanguay deal is still believed to have some potential.
5. Veteran defenceman Rob Blake is currently out with a fractured left ankle, but he's expected to return before the trade deadline. The Kings have not asked him to waive his no-trade clause, but they have discussed the fact that other teams are interested in his veteran presence.
4. Miro Satan is in the last year of his deal and he's expected to be in play. Not because the Islanders want to get rid of him, but because an offer too good to pass up may materialize.
3. The same should apply to Philadelphia's Jeff Carter. If the Flyers land Forsberg or shock the league with a wild pitch for Sundin as some suggest may happen, Carter will be a piece. He's a restricted free agent next year and it appears his money is about to be invested elsewhere.
2. Tampa Bay's Dan Boyle will draw some interest, however, he remains a long shot to move. Tampa Bay recognizes his immense value. The question is, can they afford to keep him?
1. San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau's future remains in questions, too. The Sharks are on the hunt for an offensive defenceman. Can the Wilsons afford another playoff disappointment? Not likely, so the sense is that Doug Wilson will pull out all the stops.
These are the ten men perceived to be among the most wanted, with the majority of the names on this top ten list unlikely to be declared truly available until the 11th hour on February 26.