THE RACE IS ON AS NHL TRADE FREEZE LIFTS

DARREN DREGER – Tsn.ca

The NHL’s roster freeze lifted at midnight eastern time, freeing general managers to close on any trade discussions that took place during the Olympic break.

Based on the level of those discussions, there’s a good chance we’ll see some movement in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Here’s what we know.

As is the case most years, veteran defencemen are a hot commodity.

The Boston Bruins are anxiously trying to improve their blueline with a player who can play in their top four.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes are also among the many teams scouring the market for help on the backend.

The Carolina Hurricanes have at least three defencemen Canes general manager Jim Rutherford would be willing to deal.

Joe Corvo, Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts are attracting attention, with the return for Corvo expected to be high.

Corvo returned to the Hurricanes lineup in early February after missing 28 games recovering from a cut on his leg.

By sheer volume, the Florida Panthers appear poised to be make the most significant changes.

This should come as no suprise based on a letter Panthers ownership sent to its fan base last month outlining the need for change and the reality another overhaul was about to begin.

At least eight current Panthers are available, including young forwards Rostislav Olesz and Kamil Kreps.

Olesz, taken seventh overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by Florida has 13 goals and 13 assists this season, while Kreps, a second round pick by the Panthers, 38th overall in 2003 has struggled offensively this year with just six points in 55 games.

Veteran forwards Steven Reinprecht and Cory Stillman are also being shopped.

Reinprecht’s 33 points ranks 3rd on the team, while Stillman has recorded 25 points in 41 games, proving at 36 years of age, he may provide some depth for any playoff team looking for the kind of experience a two time Stanley Cup Champion can provide.

Nick Tarnasky and Radek Dvorak are also believed to be on Florida’s trade list, along with defenceman Dennis Seidenberg.

There has been much speculation about the possibility Florida is listening to offers on goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

Sources say, at the moment, the Panthers are not considering moving Vokoun, however in the state this franchise is in, all options and any serious requests will be looked at.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=312000