You've probably been through this before.
Every year, the March 5th NHL trade deadline creeps up on hockey's frozen faithful -- with the promise of blistering trade action.
Stars will be on the move! Finally the Leafs are going to get that big, bruising shutdown defenceman! The Canucks will pick up that final piece they need to beast-mode all the way to the Cup!
Then trade day comes along.
And there's that all-too familiar refrain: A slow, sucking sound as you waste away the day, micro-thrilling to a dribble of minor trades.
So much for the National Hockey League's much-hyped trade deadline.
Well, you heard it here first (all right, probably elsewhere too): This year is going to be different.
While teams like Boston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are most certainly playoff bound, there's a whack of teams still in contention with 20 or so games remaining.
Only the bottom-dwelling Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers -- and those woeful Alberta teams -- are truly lost this year. In other words, there will be a lot of buyers on March 5th. Not so many sellers.
If you're an Edmonton Oilers fan, that's your season's silver lining -- a bidding war on third-string former stars like Ryan Smyth. Winger, Olympian and perennial trade bait Ales Hemsky may also find a new home, while bringing the Oilers a handsome return.
"We’ll be in all the conversations," Oilers' GM Craig MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal in the days preceding the deadline.
Sources say Ryan Kesler requested a trade some time ago & wants out of Vcr. Told #Canucks don't want to trade him but may not have a choice.
— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) February 27, 2014
But it's unlikely the 29-year-old, who has two years left on a $5-million contract, is going anywhere. Considering he has a no-trade clause and, well, because he says so.
“I am a Canuck and I am happy to be here," he said to reporters this week, calling the reports "completely false."
But he's not the only Vancouver player stirring up speculation. Alex Edler, usually a defensive stalwart for the 'Nucks, has had a disappointing season. Factor in some very mediocre results from this team -- and you've got trade talk.
The Buffalo Sabres will almost certainly be among the most active sellers at the deadline -- thanks to an abysmal season that sees them nowhere near contending. Having divested themselves of all-star sniper Thomas Vanek earlier this year, the Sabres will look to the future by unloading veterans.
For a while, their number one goaltender, all-star Ryan Miller was leading the trade chatter. An unrestricted free agent after this season, the low-lying Sabres have seemingly little use for a tender of his caliber.
But it's now looking like he may stick around to guide a young squad through the pains of youth.
I am hearing that it is not likely that Ryan Miller will be traded by the Deadline and Sabres are turning attention towards re signing him.
— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) February 25, 2014
Well, if that's the case, someone should mention it to Ryan Miller.
"I'm answering these questions because it seems likely, given my status at the end of the year, they're likely to trade me," Miller told NHL.com on Thursday. "And that's where we're at."
The Leafs, a middle-of-the-pack squad this year, will likely be buyers. But aside from deciding what to do with forwards Dave Bolland and Nikolai Kulemin -- both unrestricted free agents after this season -- they may not be buying much. Instead, trade talk has been swirling around young center Nazem Kadri.
At first glance, he would seem an unlikely name on the trade block. He's young, scores, annoys the bejesus out of opposing teams and still possesses plenty of upside. Nonetheless, there have been rumblings that the Leafs are less than enamored with Kadri's consistency. Or lack thereof.
“Would we be willing to trade him?" Dave Nonis told CBC Sports. "Yes, we’d be willing to trade him. But there’s a big difference between willing to and trying to."
Then again, perhaps those rumblings are a ploy on management's part -- a not-so-subtle attempt to scare up a consistent effort from the talented winger.
After all, no one would be more devastated by a trade than Kadri himself.
“It would be terrible," he told reporters in January. “This is my home and this is where I want to be. … Nobody expects more [from me] than I expect from myself.”
But then again, we do expect trades. Lots and lots of trades. Because there are lots of buyers this year. But more importantly, there are lots of fans. Like us. Just sitting around the TV all day. Waiting. And waiting.
So let's get this party started.
The NHL trade deadline kicks off on March 5th at 3 pm ET.