Well, it’s all come down to this. The NHL trade deadline is less than 24 hours away and executive Blackberrys are clacking away and cell phone chargers are hot to the touch. Along with the draft and July 1st, the trade deadline is a day that defines a general manager’s term. With that said, let’s see what’s cooking around the league – something of a preview of tomorrow’s festivities.

The waiver wire has literally burst into flames today – all of the following have been waived:
Brendan Morrison (Anaheim), Eric Perrin (Atlanta), Craig Adams (Chicago), Tom Preissing (Los Angeles), Petr Olvecky (Minnesota), Jon Sim (Islanders), Joe Callahan (Islanders), Aaron Voros (Rangers), Erik Reitz (Rangers), Brendan Bell (Ottawa), Steve Goertzen (Phoenix), Bill Thomas (Pittsburgh), Miroslav Satan (Pittsburgh), Gary Roberts (Tampa Bay).

The Ottawa Senators have placed goalie Martin Gerber on re-entry waivers.

The New York Rangers have claimed Sean Avery off re-entry waivers from Dallas, the two teams will split the remainder of the contract (including applicable cap hits) 50/50.

The Calgary Flames have claimed defenseman Lawrence Nycholat off waivers from Vancouver.

The Minnesota Wild re-signed Niklas Backstrom to a four-year, $24 million deal.

Housekeeping out of the way, let’s start in the east.

The Devils already made a move here at the deadline. They acquired defenseman Niclas Havelid from Atlanta in exchange for defenseman Anssi Salmela. Salmela was just recently signed out of Finland, he’s a young puck-mover that’s still sort of raw to the NHL game. Havelid is a solid defensive defenseman that is keen on shot blocking. However, this move strikes me as odd, as the Devils require a puck-moving defenseman – which is what Salmela is. Who am I to question Lou, but the deal strikes me as odd that this move was pushed through already. Does that mean they gave up on Tomas Kaberle or another ace? Or is just the start of things to come? The Devils don’t have a lot of moveable assets, their prospect pool is less than stellar, so perhaps they don’t have the parts to build a bigger deal. I still have an inkling that Derek Morris ends up in the Garden State before this is all said and done. Lou says that he’ll try to move Scott Clemmensen as a courtesy to him.

The Islanders are looking to squeeze out any sort of picks or prospects from their pathetic roster. Bill Guerin is gone of course, but no one is quite sure where. I still think it’s going to be Washington for a second round pick, but the Isles may be trying to use the Leafs second rounder to snag another first rounder. Radek Martinek is yielding at least three nice trade proposals that the Isles are considering. Brendan Witt isn’t moving unless a team overpays, and the way he’s been playing this year, that’s not terribly likely. One has to wonder if Jeff Tambellini’s seven career goals in 125 games has the organization wondering about his future, thus making him a piece to be had.

The New York Rangers snagged both Mark Bell and Sean Avery off waivers recently, while they sent Erik Reitz and Aaron Voros packing. Ideally, the Rangers want to dump big contracts like Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden, but it’s unlikely they’ll find a taker without taking back another problem contract. The Rangers might make some depth moves here and there, but it might be tough to find a taker. Dallas may have been kicking some tires about Rozsival or Redden, but that’s a tough sell.

In getting Briere back at the cost of Ossi Vaananen (waivers to Vancouver) and Glen Metropolit (waivers to Montreal), the Flyers are still in a sticky cap situation. Joffrey Lupul, Matt Carle and Mike Knuble are salaries that can be cleared in a deal. The Flyers have strong interest in Chris Pronger and Jay Bouwmeester. But the cost would be high. That said, apparently James VanReimsdyk (2nd overall pick in 2007) is in play and he would command a king’s ransom. The Flyers need a goalie as well, apparently Manny Fernandez, Josh Harding and Mikael Tellqvist are names in play.

The Pittsburgh Penguins waived Miroslav Satan today, which suggests that something bigger is coming. Bigger than Whitney for Kunitz and Tangradi. There are a lot of names floating around the Pens, from Jarkko Ruutu to Marian Gaborik. Could Jordan Staal reel in a big fish? There’s some interest out there from Chicago, Columbus, Toronto and some others, but can Shero make another good deal? Too much to consider in Pittsburgh to start throwing ideas at the wall, we’ll just have to sit back and see what happens. I’ll say that the Penguins have limited prospect depth and that may hinder a major deal.

The Boston Bruins are all over the map right now, and so they should be as the cream of the crop in the East. A lot of names could be in play for Boston. They are hard after Tomas Kaberle and Chris Pronger, even if it costs Mark Stuart, Zach Hamill (2007 first round pick), Joe Colborne (2008 first round pick), and/or a 2009 first rounder. Manny Fernandez is also a name floating around. But unless they feel Tuukka Rask can be ready in a pinch in the playoffs, they’re investing a lot of confidence in Tim Thomas (who most recently gave up an overtime goal from center ice on a shot going wide). Patrice Bergeron is being used as a third line center and is attracting interest, especially from Anaheim. Additionally, the Bruins need a left-handed forward. Jason Chimera is a name that’s been connected to Boston, he would bring a great deal of speed to lineup as well. Boston could be a big mover tomorrow, there are a lot of rumors surrounding them.

The Buffalo Sabres need a goalie like no other right now, with Ryan Miller down and Patrick Lalime in the spotlight, the Sabres playoffs hope will likely fade. They have a good one (but little known) waiting in the wings named Jhonas Enroth, but there’s no telling what he can do yet. The Sabres have to make the playoffs, so expect at least one move – even if it’s plucking Gerber off re-entry waivers. Oft-injured forwards Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov are likely to move. There’s talk that Columbus is high on Connolly, perhaps Rostislav Klesla is part of that deal.

Montreal has a lot of pressure on them, in case you don’t know, it’s their centennial season. However, by most accounts, Bob Gainey will remain quiet again at this deadline. Chris Higgins and Ryan O’Byrne are names hanging out there, but they might not get the value they want for him. Mathieu Dandeneault and Georges Laraque might be moved, especially the former, he apparently wants out (just like Steve Begin, who was dealt to Dallas).

Ottawa will likely move utility man Christoph Schubert soon, he will be showcased tonight versus Calgary with the hopes of getting him moved. Tough guy Chris Neil is likely a goner as well. Neil is looking for $2.5 million per year, which is obviously ridiculous, so they’ll likely extract a draft pick from him. Filip Kuba is willing to waive his no-trade clause to accommodate a move. Ottawa is looking to make some moves, but they will be in an unraveling fashion more than that of a playoff push.

Toronto could be a big mover with a new GM (Brian Burke) at the helm. Brian Burke said that he’d like to keep Tomas Kaberle unless a deal knocks his socks off. Nikolai Antropov is worth a first to Burke, but he said he’d settle for a second rounder if that’s all he can get. Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jiri Tlusty and Anton Stralman are on the block. Dominic Moore and the Leafs are far apart on an extension, but his value only about a third rounder – the Leafs may have to settle for that. The Leafs have been turning down offers for Ian White, but that doesn’t mean he’s untouchable. Columbus goalie Pascal LeClaire is a player offered to Toronto in a deal for Antropov. The Leafs have been chatting with Minnesota, but not about Marian Gaborik.

Atlanta already made a couple moves when they dealt Niclas Haveld for Anssi Salmela, and prior to that: Schneider to Montreal. Eric Perrin, a sure mover on deadline day, was waived today – so there was no interest apparently. I think that both Kari Lehtonen and Ondrej Pavelec stick around, along with Ilya Kovalchuk. Not saying they won’t be gone at the draft, but at this deadline I think they stick in the ATL.

Carolina is a team that is lost in the shuffle in the deadline talk. Erik Cole has been rumored to be heading back that way, but who knows with that. Dennis Seidenberg could be a nice consolation prize for a contender at the deadline. The Canes will probably try to move Rod Brind’Amour, but unsuccessfully in all likelihood. Ray Whitney, Scott Walker and Joe Corvo are all names in play. Carolina could stand to bolster their prospect depth.

The Florida Panthers are literally overshadowed as a franchise by the Jay Bouwmeester talk. The Panthers recalled Keaton Ellerby (10th overall in 2007) today, perhaps a test run to see if he can handle the NHL game already. Rugged defenseman Nick Boynton has been sent home after a disagreement with head coach Peter DeBoer, it becomes exceedingly likely that he gets moved. The Panthers need a major forward, preferably a center. Antoine Vermette is a name that Jacques Martin is familiar with and might be interested in.

The Lightning have been making moves all year, they might be out of gas here at the deadline. Mark Recchi is gone, maybe Pettinger, I doubt Malik is even worth the paper his contract is printed on. They already waived Gary Roberts so that’s out. Vaclav Prospal to Columbus is a rumor that pops up, but I doubt there’s much validity to it. Some teams are after Martin St. Louis, the Rangers have thrown their hat in the ring for him most recently. Adam Hall and other lunch pailers might yield a pick here and there and that’s Tampa Bay’s priority right now – draft picks.

The Washington Capitals will try to buy where they can, but cap space is somewhat limited. Bill Guerin is a player that might be headed their way. They could use a defenseman back there and apparently Shaone Morrisonn is a guy that could be dealt. The Caps have a lot of good young players that they could move (Fehr, Fleischmann, Lepisto, a spare goalie prospect, etc.), so assets are a plenty. Michael Nylander is a guy the Capitals would love to move, but that’s very unlikely at this point. Derek Morris is a blueliner that could end up in Washington. Late breaking news is that Tom Poti was yanked from warm-ups today, so he could be a goner or he may have just hurt his groin.