As NHL trade deadlines go, the 2018 rumor mill is shaping up to feature a great many compelling storylines.

The problem is: Parity blurs the Stanley Cup playoff picture to a point where many teams may not commit to buying or selling until the final days or even hours leading up to the Feb. 26 deadline. That should make for plenty of wild cards, so expect the unexpected.

MORE: Eight players who could be traded before the 2018 deadline

This year's trade bait list features your usual crop of rentals. Buffalo's Evander Kane, Detroit's Mike Green and the Rangers' Rick Nash — all pending unrestricted free agents — figure to be shipped off to a contender. Who knows? Maybe a market for John Tavares, the big fish in that 2018 free agent class, will materialize ( however unlikely ). And then there are a handful of big names with term toiling on teams fixing for a reset — Ottawa's Mike Hoffman, Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk, Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, to name a few.

Of course, it could also turn into an anticlimactic snoozefest like the 2017 version. Let's not think that way, though.

Sporting News has complete coverage tracking the latest NHL trade news and rumors ahead of the 2018 trade deadline. This post will be updated regularly through Feb. 26.

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Flyers find fill-in goalie for playoff push

Details: Petr Mrazek is headed from Detroit to Philadelphia to man the Flyers' net in place of injured Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. The Red Wings receive a pair of conditional draft picks in return: A 2018 fourth-rounder and a 2019 third-rounder. Detroit also agreed to retain half of Mrazek's salary.

TSN's Bob McKenzie has the details on the conditions of the second pick:

Date: Feb. 19

SN's take: Mrazek, 26, badly needed a change of scenery. The Red Wings had been trying to move him all season and finally found a taker thanks to the Flyers' injury woes in net. Outside Buffalo's Robin Lehner, Mrazek is believed to be the best goalie available for trade at this year's deadline, so it's a coup for Philly, which will be without Elliott and Neuvirth for "weeks," per GM Ron Hextall.

“I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team," Hextall told reporters after the trade.

There's no telling whether the Flyers will be interested in retaining Mrazek, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Elliott and Neuvirth are both under contract for the 2018-19 season. In prime playoff position at 30-19-10, the Flyers aren't looking that far ahead, anyhow.

— Brandon Schlager

Kings get Dion Phaneuf from Senators

Details: Dion Phaneuf is headed to the Kings as part of a four-player trade that officially ushered in the NHL trade season. The veteran defenseman was whisked away mid-game Tuesday while the Senators were playing the Penguins, stoking trade chatter. An hour later, it was announced Phaneuf is dealt to Los Angeles along with forward Nate Thompson with forwards Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore headed to Ottawa.

Date: Feb. 13

SN's take: Phaneuf, 32, spent parts of the last three seasons in Ottawa following his blockbuster trade out of Toronto. But with a $7 million cap hit, he had fallen out of favor with the struggling Senators, who agreed to retain 20 percent of Phaneuf's salary. In the process, Los Angeles rids itself of 35-year-old Gaborik's contract, which has about $11 million remaining over the next three years.

The trade is ultimately about adding defensive depth for the Kings, and lesser responsibilities should help Phaneuf remain useful as the team chases a playoff spot. 

— Brandon Schlager

Predators, Lightning plan for Stanley Cup push

Details:  A bunch of NHL teams are still posturing, and the next three weeks will determine whether many become a buyer, seller or stands pat. The league-leading Lightning and defending Western Conference champion Predators already have a pretty good idea about their plans as Stanley Cup front runners.

Via TSN's Bob McKenzie:

Date: Feb. 3

Analysis:  That's a lot to digest and, as McKenzie notes, is little more than food for thought at this stage.

While the Predators made their big splash in November, stealing Kyle Turris in the Matt Duchene trade, they've missed James Neal on the wing with Kevin Fiala and Pontus Aberg unable to fill that offensive production. Their leading scorer is defenseman P.K. Subban. Meanwhile, the Bolts need to fortify their blueline. Victor Hedman, the emergence of rookie Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy's incredible season mask those deficiencies, but another Hedman injury could derail Tampa's Cup hopes if it doesn't acquire defensive depth.

Both Tampa and Nashville have some salary cap wiggle room and plenty of picks and prospects to entice. They'll be players for the biggest names on the market, 

— Brandon Schlager

Henrik Lundqvist committed to Rangers rebuild

Details:  A New York Post report detailed the Rangers' willingness to trade off veterans such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, all of whom carry contracts which expire this offseason or next. In other words, the Blueshirts may blow things up. And while that would seem to place 35-year-old Henrik Lundqvist's future with the franchise in question, the longtime Rangers netminder says he wants to stick around and "battle through the ups and downs, the good and the bad."

“I want to play for one organization. This one," Lundqvist told the Post in a lengthy interview about the state of the franchise, the only one he's known in 13 NHL seasons. "I love it here. I want to be here and battle through the ups and downs, the good and the bad. It’s important to me.”

Date:  Feb. 2

SN's take:  Lundqvist is right at the top of the list of NHL veterans most deserving of a Stanley Cup. As the window closes on a Hall of Fame career, his best chance to win one probably lies outside the Big Apple. It's admirable to spend an entire career with one team, but Lundqvist and the Rangers' paths seem to be diverging. We'll see.

— Brandon Schlager

​MORE: Top 15 NHL veterans without a Stanley Cup

Islanders GM: 'I'm not trading John Tavares'

Details:  John Tavares, a pending unrestricted free agent, remains without a contract extension. And as the Islanders slip up in the Metropolitan Division playoff race, speculation grows about whether GM Garth Snow should trade the face of the franchise rather than lose him for nothing July 1. It sounds like that speculation is unfounded.

“I’m not trading John Tavares,’’ the Islanders general manager told The Athletic .

Date: Feb. 2

Analysis: Tavares, 27, holds all the cards. He's in the Hart Trophy conversation and may be the favorite if he wills the Islanders to the playoffs. There's no doubt he'll join the NHL's $10 million club, at least. But with each passing day, the slim chances of a contract agreement before the Feb. 26 deadline become slimmer. 

Tavares stands to benefit the most by waiting the situation out. By all accounts, he's impressed by the organization's apparent commitment to win, encouraged by young talent at the NHL and development levels and rookie head coach Doug Weight. A trade of the captain would reset all of that progress.

Barring the extraordinary, the Islanders are still the favorite to retain Tavares, even if it takes until July 1 to do so.

— Brandon Schlager