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From the Branches: The most unpredictable NHL off-season in years

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A very volatile off-season begins right now

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's a rare combination of events in recent NHL history that is leading up to what may be the most volatile, and for fans, terrifying, off-season in recent memory.

The repercussions of a salary cap that will not rise much, if at all, and the uncertainty of a looming expansion draft where any team could lose a good player, has the makings of a dramatic off-season.

The seal was broken yesterday with a cap-space clearing trade by the Chicago Blackhawks. They sent Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for draft picks. Teravainen, a 21 year old center had 13 goals and 22 assists last season was a casualty of the cap crunch and may have set the bar for what it costs for a team to rid themselves of a bad contract like Bickell's.

Hurricanes Acquire Teravainen And Bickell From Blackhawks - Canes Country
Carolina sends a second round pick in this year's draft and a third round pick in 2017 to Chicago.

Trading Teravainen to keep Andrew Shaw would show a lack of imagination - Second City Hockey
Instead of seeing what could become of Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks have apparently chosen the safe familiarity of Andrew Shaw. How disappointing.

The Blackhawks Had to Trade Teravainen to Clear Bickell's Cap Hit: What Does That Mean for the Red Wings? - Winging It In Motown
Two cap floor teams have made moves over the past few days - the asking price for cap relief seems to be higher than previously thought.

A lot of teams are going to have to make some tough choices, and fast. The other elephant in the room is the coming expansion draft which teams need to start preparing for right now.

We'll have more on the Leafs and the Expansion Draft at 9:00AM. Monday!

Other News

Ballots show Crosby edged Kessel in tight Conn Smythe vote - TSN
"The final point total based on that system and the information obtained by tsn.ca: Crosby 63, Kessel 60."

Top 5 Landing Spots for Steven Stamkos - Bloggers' Tribune
Toronto is not listed

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Debate On Size - Editor in Leaf
Let’s measure up the average weight of top nine forwards and top four defenders for each of the Conference Finalists, as well as a makeshift Toronto Maple Leafs group of current players

Did the NHL misspell Philadelphia on their new hats? - Broad Street Hockey
The Philadelhia Flyers.

Dick Panik re-signs with Blackhawks on 1-year deal - Second City Hockey
Let the puns commence!

Rick DiPietro talks about his contract hopes, demotion to the minors and burying his sorrows in sandwiches - Lighthouse Hockey
"Listen, Roberto Luongo hasn't won a Stanley Cup, he's been on a couple of different teams, he's not a loyal guy. That's fine. You can say he's better than me and he probably is. But the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. He hasn't won one, I didn't win one."

NHL superlatives: hockey's best, worst, saddest and strangest of 2015-16 - DGB

Finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to the Pensburgh staff for allowing us to join them yesterday to celebrate PHIL!