Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 12/27/11

The holiday roster freeze is over tonight. The trade deadline is two months away. Who will be the biggest names on the market between now and February 27th? Here are five players to keep an eye on…

1. Bobby Ryan, Ducks
From Anaheim’s point of view, it would be a mistake to trade a young talent Bobby Ryan. But they need more than a goal-scorer with “potential” to score 50 in a season. They need defense, depth and, most importantly, a spark. (Trading Ryan still is not the way to go for GM Bob Murray.) If the Ducks are still struggling by late January or February, you can bet Ryan’s name will resurface in trade rumors/discussions. The Ducks would want a top-six forward, one or two prospects and a draft pick, at the very least, in return for Ryan. A desperate team would be willing to give up that kind of haul for Ryan, who is 24 and has yet to reach his prime.

2. Ryan Suter, Predators
Nashville Predators GM David Poile will try his best to get Suter signed prior to the trade deadline. If he isn’t signed by that time, Poile has to look at all of his options. Poile cannot afford to let the defenseman walk for nothing in the off-season. Suter is in a contract year at 26 years old (soon to be 27) and in the prime of his career. In Nashville, the spotlight is taken away from him, thanks to defense partner Shea Weber. Anywhere else, Suter could be a No. 1 defenseman, and he would get that chance next summer with a huge payday. If he is put on the trade market, Suter would be the best blue liner available and would be sought after by countless teams.

3. Jarome Iginla, Flames
Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster repeatedly claims that he has never listened to a trade offer for Jarome Iginla. Contrarily, as long as Iginla remains in Calgary and team is stuck in mediocrity, the rumors will persist. The Flames captain has spent his whole NHL career in Calgary and hasn’t expressed a desire to leave. But as we’ve expressed many times before, how long will it take before Iginla realizes he’ll never win a Stanley Cup where he is now? His contract ends after next season and has a high cap hit ($7 million), but would be pursued by many teams looking for an offensive boost at the deadline.

4. Ales Hemsky, Oilers
It isn’t a trade deadline without rumors surrounding Hemsky, eh? The talented, yet oft-injured winger is in the last season of his contract. With Hemsky in and out of the lineup this year, the Oilers have showed a lot of offensive potential without him on his A-game (11 points in 22 games). It’s clear the franchise is going forward with its youth – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle – and trading a liability like Hemsky for some future assets may be in the best interest of GM Steve Tambellini. Expect Hemsky’s name to surface many times between now and Feb. 27.

5. Tuomo Ruutu, Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is reportedly ready to stage another firesale at the trade deadline. If you remember, he got the quite the haul for many role players two years ago when the ‘Canes found themselves in a similar situation. One name that will be out there is Tuomo Ruutu, who has been productive for the Hurricanes in recent seasons; last year he posted a career-high 57 points. Ruutu isn’t an elite talent like some others on this list; but if Ryan, Iginla and Hemsky don’t get dealt, or if teams fail to grab one of them, Ruutu would certainly become a valuable trade commodity to playoff contenders.

Photos credit: Getty Images

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