With just mere hours remaining until the Christmas-Eve-night-like anxiousness actualizes into Deadline Day 2012, many teams are still pensively kicking tires and browsing inventory. We have had very few deals out in front of the league’s trade deadline this year which can set up for an explosive Monday afternoon. Let’s take one last look at what you can expect on D-Day 2012.

Beginning out West, the Dallas Stars were once thought to be sellers but a recent stretch of good games and a neat little comeback win vs. Vancouver on Sunday has put Dallas in a position to keep their current core of players it seems. Sources within the Dallas organization say that the goal is to get younger and have the team’s braintrust, so to speak, centered around Jamie Benn, not so much the older guard (Brenden Morrow, for instance). If there’s a hockey deal that makes sense for them involving a player like Steve Ott or Sheldon Souray, the Stars may take it if they get a good young roster player back. However, I don’t believe Joe Nieuwendyk has a lot of interest in simply shipping out players for draft picks. Would I be surprised to see something centered around Mason Raymond for Steve Ott late Monday afternoon? No, not particularly. But the likelihood of Dallas making any substantial moves is quite low. They’re listening to offers, but it doesn’t appear as if they are actively pursuing anything specific going into Monday.

The Phoenix Coyotes made a trade for a second line center already when they got Antoine Vermette from Columbus. They would like to add a depth winger or a veteran stay-at-home defenseman but they won’t break the bank to do so. They almost always make a trade with the Rangers this time of year because of the friendly relations between the two, but with both teams hoping for quality playoff runs, they might not make good dance partners this time around.

Dean Lombardi tried a cannonball from the high jump but didn’t make as big of a splash as he originally intended. He attempted to get Rick Nash and Jeff Carter at the same time, but came away with just the disgruntled center at the cost of offensive defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick. While it appears he’s done trying to make big waves, he does want to continue to tinker and add depth all over the organization. They want veteran pieces with good leadership skills that can provide valuable playoff depth. Jonathan Bernier is not expected to be part of these proceedings, as Lombardi is looking for a first round pick and a top prospect for their talented young goalie prospect. Expect the Kings to get a couple deals done tomorrow and attempt to force their way into the playoffs – Lombardi’s job might just depend on it.

San Jose is looking to add depth, especially on the defense. Colin White has been horrid this season and the Sharks aren’t comfortable with him taking regular minutes in the playoffs it appears. They’ve suffered a rash of injuries recently (including Head Coach Todd McLellan, who was felled by a Minnesota Wild player’s stick during Sunday’s game) and have to figure out the repercussions of that. The Sharks are involved with the Rick Nash sweepstakes, but with the price tag starting with Logan Couture, Doug Wilson may balk at that idea. I’d expect the Sharks to be busy tomorrow, but a big splash might be out of their reach.

Anaheim is making a late push for the playoffs, but it might be too little, too late. Bob Murray will still entertain the idea of selling off some pieces, such as defensive defenseman Toni Lydman who is in fairly high demand and enigmatic speedster Jason Blake, but I’d expect them to be in a veritable holding pattern Monday. They need a second line center but that’s a problem for the offseason in all likelihood.

Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis is burning up the phone lines looking for a deal to shake up his lineup. He has cap space and assets and he wants to make a push for the Stanley Cup right now. He has his sights set on Steve Ott and his menacing, abrasive stylings, but Dallas might not be so quick to budge. He wants some energy and some sandpaper if he can get his hands on it. There’s lots on the table for and from Vancouver and they should be busy throughout the night and into Monday right to the wire.

The Avalanche has been getting a lot of calls about depth wingers David Jones and Daniel Winnik and I would expect both to be moved on Monday. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a maybe, it’s believed that a couple of teams are interested including Chicago and Philadelphia. I don’t expect to see a Giguere move before the deadline, but a desperate team could convince the Avs to part ways with him. They’d like a forward with size right now and reportedly covet Philadelphia’s James vanRiemsdyk but many teams do, so it’s hardly news.

The Calgary Flames are in trouble, they’re bloated roster chock full of irresponsible no-trade clauses needs to be gutted. Jay Feaster doesn’t seem too intent on initiating a full-fledged rebuild like their Albertan counterparts in Edmonton. Jarome Iginla is not going anywhere, Olli Jokinen will not be asked to waive his no-trade clause and will likely be re-signed before too long, Miikka Kiprusoff is there to stay so what Calgary can do is limited. David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos and Scott Hannan could be had for picks, but otherwise, the culture change that is needed in Calgary will be put off for another year and they will continue to wallow in the mire of mediocrity.

With the re-signing of Ales Hemsky already complete, the Oilers figure to be pretty quiet on Monday. Perhaps a draft pick swipes the less-than-stellar Nikolai Khabibulin from their ranks, otherwise, I would expect a quiet day in Steve Tambellini’s office.

Minnesota will probably move some pieces around in addition to shipping Marek Zidlicky, such as Greg Zanon. They have some depth that can be shifted around and a pending UFA goalie in Josh Harding that could be a potential starter on many teams. It will be curious to see what Minnesota does on Monday, I’d expect a couple minor moves but nothing audacious.

St. Louis has already shipped off a highly-regarded goalie prospect themselves in Ben Bishop to Ottawa for a 2nd round pick and that might be the most excitement we see from them at this deadline. There’s talk of unmotivated, inconsistent scoring winger Chris Stewart being moved but I don’t see that happening now. They could use another quality d-man, especially one that can clear the crease with authority. One might suggest that Roman Hamrlik and Toni Lydman would be a good fit for St. Louis but with ownership issues, they have budgetary concerns that are very prohibiting. Any deals that are made would have to make sense financially in order to go through.

The Nashville Predators have already acquired Hal Gill and David Poile has been busy on the phones. The Predators are a surprise team that has a late entry in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. It’s apparently an offer that includes Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis and a mixed bag of other things that may or may not include humongous big goalie Anders Lindback. Whether Rick Nash wants to be the author of horrible puns as a Predator for the remainder of his days remains to be seen, however, you can’t blame the Preds for trying to make a Cup push. The playoff revenues are needed as they have Ryan Suter and Shea Weber as pending free agents looking for big deals. No matter the whereabouts of Rick Nash, I’d expect the Predators to be aggressive buyers tomorrow and add at least one forward – perhaps reuniting Andrei Kostitsyn with his brother Sergei and hope to catch lightning in a bottle on that front.

The rest of the Central can go a variety of directions. The Red Wings likely will add a depth forward akin to Samuel Pahlsson that makes them a little tougher to play against and can win faceoffs. They did lose Jonathan Ericsson for nearly the rest of the regular season with a wrist injury but he should be back for the playoffs and I doubt Holland will make a knee-jerk trade on that front. Columbus is virtually a powder-keg, Rick Nash and a host of others possibly shipping out. Anything can happen in Ohio tomorrow and it won’t be a surprise to anyone. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to slide and will look for upgrades on defense and in net, a couple areas that have left them wanting this year. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery is about as bad as a tandem as you can have as a contender but the options are limited as it doesn’t appear even Evgeni Nabokov is available. Let’s see how creative Stan Bowman can be under the pressure of a slumping team with noteworthy holes.

Out in the East, it should be smooth sailing through calm seas on Monday for New Jersey (who already addressed their biggest need by getting Marek Zidlicky for a healthy pile of not very much) and Pittsburgh. The Penguins will look to add a gritty depth forward to compliment their other less gritty depth forwards, otherwise I wouldn’t expect much from Ray Shero’s office on Monday. Same goes for the Florida Panthers who have made their moves out in front of the deadline. Dale Tallon can sleep in tomorrow and not miss a beat.

In terms of movers and shakers, the Boston Bruins will not be moving anyone off the current roster but may look to add a piece or two for, you guessed it, depth. If the price is right, a veteran d-man and a defensive forward will be adds for Boston Monday afternoon, no frills or blockbusters expected.

Sources around the New York Islanders suggest that while contract extensions may not be in place before Monday’s trade deadline, Evgeni Nabokov (who has garnered offers as high as a 2nd round pick) and P.A. Parenteau will not be moved. The Isles could be soft buyers at the deadline perhaps depending on the deals they can get both ways. Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina have been drawing some interest around the league, but Snow is always a stickler for the sticker price. He doesn’t generally bend on his valuation of players and this deadline won’t be different. If the Isles move a prospect and grab a vet, don’t be too surprised at that either as they aren’t dead in the water with eight points separating them from a playoff berth.

On the other side of town (as if that was accurate), the New York Rangers have been deeply vested in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Which, frankly, has been discussed to death already. While some suggest that the Rangers have bowed out, until 3 pm rolls around I wouldn’t be so sure. Either way, they need to add some players to the back end regardless of whether or not they get Rick Nash. Surprisingly, part-time model, full-time pest Sean Avery was not put on re-entry waivers despite the reported request of at least one Western Conference team for Sather to do so. He may come up on the other side of the deadline – but not necessarily in New York. Teams don’t have to worry as much about re-entry waivers on the other side of the deadline because any players acquired after the 3 pm deadline are ineligible for the playoffs – so Avery remains in play.

The Philadelphia Flyers are in a constant state of flux as Paul Holmgren, at times, treats his job as if it were played in a video game. The roster upheaval and turnover in Philadelphia is seemingly as constant as the disdain for their goaltending. Which brings up the point that the Flyers are reportedly pursuing a goaltender – again. Unhappy with the play of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers may look to add another goalie at the deadline. While a deal seems unlikely, unlikely accurately describes many of the moves undertaken by Holmgren recently. There’s scuttlebutt that James vanRiemsdyk is available if it provides a significant upgrade to the team in some fashion, but it’s never clear what Holmgren is up to at any point really. They have already been busy bulking up their blueline, but I doubt they’re done all together.

The Buffalo Sabres may have to wait until the offseason to make the big moves that Terry Pegula wants to make. He may pressure Darcy Regier into being aggressive at the deadline and switch out some players that don’t fit the new culture of the Sabres. Derek Roy, Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Jordan Leopold and Marc-Andre Gragnani are all guys that could be on the move in the not-too-distant future, whether that’s Monday or not remains to be seen. Can the Sabres factor into the Rick Nash sweepstakes? If Rick Nash wants to be a Sabre, I’m sure Pegula would like to have him. Buffalo is a real wildcard from now and into the offseason.

Also in the “anything goes” column are the Toronto Maple Leafs. There’s interest around the league in talented forward Mikhail Grabovski and purported human eraser Luke Schenn among others. The former has garnered an offer as high as a 2nd rounder and a prospect so far. The Leafs need a goalie and to trim some of the fat off the roster. Brian Burke is very set in his ways and is not generally subject to bamboozling.

The Ottawa Senators, after acquiring 6-foot-7 goaltending prospect Ben Bishop, will likely be in a holding pattern throughout most of the day. They might try to add a forward, but with a young roster and an injured Craig Anderson, Bryan Murray can’t be an aggressive buyer in all good conscience.

The Montreal Canadiens will be in selling mode. They want to keep Travis Moen if they can, but Andrei Kostitsyn is available. The Canadiens don’t have a ton of wiggle room or assets that can be readily pawned off though, so it may be a fairly quiet day for them.

In Tampa Bay Steve Yzerman and in Carolina Jim Rutherford figure to sell off whatever they can in the waning minutes. Tampa has done a good deal of their movement already, while Carolina will probably spare one or both of Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen as they have both attracted some interest. The Canes have not been able to come to an agreement with Bryan Allen on a contract extension and that will increase the likelihood that a contender swoops in and takes him. The Canes have some young players that may be part of a “hockey trade” as sources around the Canes say, but those deals are difficult to facilitate under the gun of a time limit.

The Winnipeg Jets are looking to surprise many and make a push for the playoffs. It’s unlikely that they’ll be aggressive buyers, in fact, they might ship off a player like Johnny Oduya to gain assets. Otherwise, expect the Jets to continue to quietly plod along and not make a lot of waves.

The Washington Capitals are a team in distress. There are a lot of options and assets at George McPhee’s disposal but how much tinkering does he actually want to do? Mike Knuble and Roman Hamrlik may get the ax, the former has been a healthy scratch for quite some time. They are another wild card team that’s still relatively fresh off of a coaching change. I can’t imagine the speculation that will come out this offseason if the Capitals fail to clinch a playoff berth against powerhouses like Florida and Winnipeg. The Caps, like the Kings, may try to barnstorm their way into the playoffs with a power move late in the day.

All in all it should be a relatively quiet deadline. After all, if Rick Nash wasn’t all of a sudden available, what would be the talk of the town to begin with? We’ll see at least a dozen deals, maybe 15, 18 moves at most I feel, but if there’s major blockbusters out there, they’re doing a good job of keeping themselves under wraps. My prediction is to have a good book ready for tomorrow. Stay tuned to Faceoff Factor for analysis after the dust settles.