What should the Oilers do with the No. 4 overall pick? Here are three options

Matt Larkin
Peter Chiarelli (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The most common question I’ve received about next week’s NHL draft is, by far, “What should the Edmonton Oilers do with the fourth overall pick?”

So let’s tackle it. We know GM Peter Chiarelli has indicated the No. 4 pick is available should the right offer come his way. That doesn’t guarantee Edmonton trades it or should want to trade it. Let’s look at a few different options for Chiarelli next Friday night in Buffalo.

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Bickell-Teravainen trade illustrates everything that’s wrong with the salary cap

Ken Campbell
Bryan Bickell  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The question when it comes to the trade between the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes is not which team won the transaction. We already know that. The more pressing question, one that will only be answered in the coming years, is just how badly did the Hurricanes fleece the Blackhawks?

And the reason why is pretty damned depressing. It’s because the salary cap punishes teams that develop good, young players and spends money to perpetuate a winning culture and rewards those who muddle around in mediocrity and do it on the cheap. The deal that sent Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell (and his $4 million cap hit) to the Hurricanes for a second-round pick in 2016 and a third-rounder in 2017 represents everything that is wrong with the salary cap.

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Blackhawks trade Teravainen, Bickell to Hurricanes for two draft picks

Jared Clinton
Teuvo Teravainen (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes have kicked off the off-season with an incredibly surprising trade.

The Hurricanes announced Wednesday they have acquired winger Bryan Bickell, 30, and center Teuvo Teravainen, 21, from the Blackhawks in exchange for a second-round pick, 50th overall, in 2016 and a third-round pick in 2017. It’s a deal that works for both teams, but one that’s especially good for the Hurricanes, who leveraged the Blackhawks’ need to move Bickell’s $4 million cap hit into landing a young, promising player in Teravainen.

“This deal allowed us to use some of our collected draft picks to improve our group of forwards for the coming season by added two Stanley Cup champions,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said in a release. “Teuvo is a young, highly-skilled player still on his entry-level contract who is coming off of a strong first full NHL season, and Bryan is a veteran who has experienced great success in his career. Both players give our organization more options and flexibility among the forward ranks.” Read more

Top 10 trade candidates at the 2016 NHL draft

Matt Larkin
Marc-Andre Fleury. (Getty Images)

Draft day has usurped trade deadline day and free agent day as the NHL’s most exciting off-ice event, and it’s not because of the drafting. The last weekend in June has become a lightning rod for blockbuster trades because, unlike at the trade deadline, almost every franchise is a theoretical suitor for any available player. The market doesn’t necessarily split between buyers and sellers. Every team has winning in mind, albeit some make moves for the short term and some trade for long-term assets.

Last June gave us the jaw-dropping Dougie Hamilton deal on draft day, and that was just the beginning. Milan Lucic, Martin Jones, Ryan O’Reilly and Carl Hagelin, among many others, also changed teams over the weekend. Phil Kessel, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad followed days later.

It’s a virtual guarantee some marquee names move next week in Buffalo, with all 30 GMs scurrying around the First Niagara Center’s floor. Who are the top 10 draft-day trade candidates? Ponder these players, ranked from least to most likely.

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Phil Kessel starring as the best player in a supporting role for Penguins

Phil Kessel  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

SAN JOSE – This is something that simply needs to be said. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of winning their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history because of Phil Kessel. Now sit back and let that sink in for a minute. And if you’re a fan of the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs, please stay a safe distance from sharp objects.

Since the Penguins last won the Cup in 2009, they were beaten out in the playoffs six of seven years by a team that finished lower than they did in the standings. What they failed to grasp is that superstars get shut down in the playoffs, so you need very good support players to succeed. And in Kessel, they might have one of the most talented support players in the history of the game.

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Five storylines that make the Lightning the off-season’s most interesting team

Jonathan Drouin and Steven Stamkos.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t quite match last year’s brilliance but, considering the obstacles they faced this spring, they should be darned proud of what they accomplished.

They won two playoff rounds and reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final without Steven Stamkos, their best player. They went 9-2 without their second-best defenseman, Anton Stralman, before getting him back in for Game 2 against Pittsburgh. They lost their franchise goalie, Ben Bishop, in Game 1 against the Penguins and still pushed them to the brink. With a little more luck on the health front, the Bolts easily could’ve matched last season’s Stanley Cup final appearance and maybe even won it all.

The 2015-16 season should thus be considered a resounding success. The Lightning also have a lot to look forward to going forward. Before we anoint them serious 2016-17 contenders, however, they have many problems to solve this off-season. Few if any GMs have a longer, more significant laundry list than Steve Yzerman. Tampa is the summer’s most interesting team. Here are five crucial storylines to watch.

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Sharks avoid losing prospect Sadowy for nothing, ship him to Red Wings for third-round pick

Jared Clinton
Dylan Sadowy (Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks had until June 1 to sign prospect Dylan Sadowy. If they didn’t, the 20-year-old winger was set to re-enter the upcoming draft and the Sharks would lose Sadowy, a two-time 40-goal scorer in the OHL, for nothing.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson solved that problem Thursday afternoon, however, by working out a deal with Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

It was announced by the Red Wings Thursday afternoon that they have acquired Sadowy from the Sharks in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, and, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Sadowy has signed an entry-level deal with Detroit. That means he won’t be re-entering the draft, and he’s officially a Red Wing. Read more

Erik Gudbranson to Canucks, Jared McCann to Panthers in head-scratcher trade

Matt Larkin
Erik Gudbranson (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Who said we had to wait until draft day for major off-season trades to start happening? The Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks bamboozled us with a surprise trade Wednesday night, reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The Panthers sent defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a 2016 fifth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for center Jared McCann, a 2016 second-round pick and a 2016 fourth-round pick. No salary was retained as part of the transaction, Johnston reports.

It’s a curious, interesting trade from each team’s perspective. The Canucks needed veteran defensive help. Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber are unrestricted free agents this summer, and youngsters Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin aren’t shoo-ins to be full-time NHLers next year. Gudbranson, the third overall pick in 2010, certainly fills that gap. He’ll almost certainly slot into Vancouver’s top four.

At the same time, the Canucks and GM Jim Benning paid a pretty big price. That second-round pick going Florida’s way is 33rd overall, so it’s almost like a late first-rounder. Speaking of first-rounders: so was center McCann, chosen 24th overall in 2014. McCann had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s only 19, he managed nine goals, and it was his first and only year of professional hockey. He jumped from the OHL to the NHL, with no stop in AHL Utica. He projects as a good two-way NHL pivot. The Canucks do have Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter up the middle, but Sedin will be 36 when next season starts, so Vancouver isn’t exactly rolling in long-term depth.

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