It's the stuff that Stanley Cup dreams are made of.
A contending team looking for a final puzzle piece—a scorer, a goalie, a defender or a glue guy—pulls the trigger on a late-season transaction that ultimately puts it over the top.
It makes the days leading up to the trade deadline among the most fascinating of the NHL season.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning dealt a minor leaguer and a first-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for third-line center Blake Coleman, who went on to score 13 points in 25 playoff games as the Lightning marched to the second championship in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Devils finished tied for 25th in points among 31 teams and missed the playoffs.
Though the April 12 deadline is still 61 days away, a handful of teams have begun the season with the sort of stumbles that provide fertile ground for prospecting general managers.
The B/R hockey team took a look at those early strugglers and came up with a list of their players most likely to attract interest from a would-be contender at this stage. Bigger names are certain to join their ranks as standings gaps grow wider (Taylor Hall) or internal strife gets more intense (Patrick Laine), but those are debates to be considered at a later date.
Take a look at who we came up at first glance, and drop a comment or two with your thoughts.
Devan Dubnyk, San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks were third from the bottom in a 31-team league last season. And after just 10 games this season, they already found themselves seventh in an eight-team West Division and four points out of the fourth and final playoff spot.
Is that deficit insurmountable? No. But by the same token, only an optimist with teal-tinged blood would be expecting a parade anytime soon.
In other words, it'll be no surprise when general manager Doug Wilson's phone begins ringing with calls about the availability of goaltender Devan Dubnyk, a three-time All-Star in the last five seasons.
Now 34, Dubnyk was a first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2004 and has only been in San Jose since the Sharks dealt a fifth-round pick for him in October. He's allowed 11 goals across four starts and 13 in six appearances for his new team, posting a .917 save percentage while facing 156 shots.
Dubnyk is in the final season of a six-year, $26 million contract and has a multiple-team no-trade clause built in, so it'll take the right suitor and perhaps the right circumstances to get him out of Northern California.
But if a team believes it's one reliable puck-stopper away from a deep run, he has to be on the radar.
Olli Maatta, Los Angeles Kings
For teams with a big defenseman with first-round draft pedigree and significant postseason experience on their trade-deadline shopping list, the Los Angeles Kings might have a deal to offer.
Finnish blueliner Olli Maatta, whom the Pittsburgh Penguins picked 22nd overall in 2012 and won Stanley Cups with them in 2016 and 2017, currently finds himself in the midst of a rebuild with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings have prospects aplenty in the pipeline, but they aren't exactly setting the NHL on fire these days. They have only eight points in their first 11 games and are already trailing an eight-team pack in the West Division.
Maatta, a 6'2", 206-pounder who shoots from the left side, spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks and played 74 games (regular and postseason) before a trade sent him to the West Coast in October.