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Every year, June turns out to be one of the most exciting months for fans and athletes alike. Not only are the dreams of superstars and journeymen alike met in the NBA and NHL finals, but drafts galore as well.
Young baseball players who grew up playing catch with their dads on the road in front of their house or at the local park have a chance to be drafted into their favorite team's system; a kid who spends his nights out on the basketball court dreaming to be Michael Jordan can finally get his shot at the NBA; and all of those hours spent on a backyard rink finally pay off, as the parents who drove their kids to the rink in the wee hours of a Saturday morning can watch him walk onto the stage at the NHL draft.
While many argue that June may not be the best month for sports, it is certainly one that offers us the deepest look into the future of our favorite games.
But while those players are grasping their dreams, for some if only for a moment, the teams that have to make these decisions are trudging through their own nightmares.
Some have ownership questions, while others have to wonder if there will even be a team come next season. There are franchises in disarray, discontent, and disassembling left, right, and center.
Some have decided what they're going to do at this time of year, while other teams are having their hands forced.
With that being said, here are the 10 franchises (in no specific order) that will be worth watching for one reason or another at this weekend's NHL Entry Draft.
1) The San Jose Sharks
If the rumors are true, then a shakeup is coming to the Shark Tank this offseason.
Just like last year, word is that Patrick Marleau is available, and just like last year, many are predicting he'll be out of town by the end of the weekend.
Take that for what it's worth.
Evgeni Nabokov has also had his name come up in various rumors, but the chances on that are relatively low, while the name garnering the most interest so far is Ryan Clowe.
2) The Tampa Bay Lightning
While the soap opera in Phoenix is getting the most attention, many need to look no further than Len Barrie and Oren Koules' recent soap opera, leaving general manager Brian Lawton in a very awkward situation.
Side note: On the bright side, Tampa Bay has two of something that Phoenix can't even get one of—money-grubbing owners who make ridiculous hockey decisions and double-cross everyone they've ever come in contact with.
After all, Mayne did write a book on sports. I've read it. Buy it.
And if they give Mayne the team, maybe he makes Bill Simmons GM!!! It's a Win-Win!!
Not only is current captain Vincent Lecavalier up for grabs, with the most-talked about destination being Montreal, but the second overall pick of this year's draft could be had for a price as well, depending on what happens with the New York Islanders.
Speaking of the fishermen...
3) The New York Islanders
New York is in an enviable position: They have what everyone wants and covets in the first overall selection.
The fact that so many people exploded at Brian Burke's announcement after the Draft Lottery that he wanted to move up was silly. Fact is, most teams would try to pry that pick away from the Islanders, whether they were going for John Tavares or Victor Hedman (or Matt Duchene...).
The Islanders simply have the most speculation surrounding what they'll do: The fans (and apparently nearly 18,000 of them are attending the Draft Party) are gunning for Tavares, the scouts are saying the Isles' best bet is Hedman, and apparently there are a few New York media members reporting the Isles' interest in Duchene.
Then you've got to remember that they own a second first round pick at No. 26, which everyone overlooks.
Who knows? That might be trade bait.
4. The Montreal Canadiens
Big whoop. The draft is in Montreal, they're rumored to be the front-runners for Lecavalier, and their four big-name free agent forwards are still unsigned.
If the Habs don't do something at the draft, I wouldn't be surprised to see the fans of Montreal riot on Jacques Martin.
Maybe they can trade him back to Ottawa for Dany Heatley.
5. The Ottawa Senators
Speaking of the Sens and Heatley, the rumors continue to swirl.
There have been reports of as many as seven teams being interested in Heatley, while some reports have said that the list is down to four teams. Then again, depending on who you listen to, some think Heatley to the New York Rangers is a foregone conclusion.
The package the Sens get in return will be interesting to say the least. With Heatley's request of a trade, Sens management is put in an awkward position, having to deal a player that the rest of the league knows doesn't want to be there.
Perhaps the Sens can squeeze a little leverage out of the situation and acquire another draft pick to go along with a potential prospect.
6. The Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers
Both teams fall into the same category at the draft, so I cheated and decided to put in 11 teams.
Despite the Rangers' interest in Heatley, they need to shed payroll in order for them to take on such a large contract, and names like Scott Gomez and Chris Drury keep coming up, along with Wade Redden.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, are rumored to be interested in moving Ryan Smyth, Scott Hannan, and John-Michael Liles to clear up their own cap room, and Darcy Tucker may be getting bought out for the second straight offseason.
7. The Florida Panthers
As Alan Bass and I have talked about in our Mock Drafts here on Bleacher Report, the Panthers are now looking at trading Jay Bouwmeester's negotiating rights.
The price? A third-round pick.
Expect that price to escalate a little bit as the five teams remaining in the hunt jockey for position, but just to be able to talk to Bouwmeester, the price (so far) is fair for the most talked about defenseman in hockey right now not named Hedman.
8. The Toronto Maple Leafs
Big surprise here: The Leafs want to do something at draft day.
With the initial price of just a third round pick for Bouwmeester's negotiating rights (I can see it going to a second and third if a deal actually happens), I am hoping that the Leafs are in on that, but never get your hopes up.
Then there are the continuous trade rumors about Toronto moving up to second if Hedman is taken first overall, and now the newest rumor has them moving the seventh overall pick to the Western Conference for a roster player.
I hear it's Kip Brennan.
My hope? The Leafs simply move up to fourth overall and grab Brayden Schenn. If Burke does that, I'm a happy camper.
9. The Minnesota Wild
The Wild are usually a bit of an enigma around this time and shy away from big deals. However, Chuck Fletcher may be looking to make an impact in his first big day as Wild GM.
Fletcher was reportedly pursuing Dany Heatley, which could change the entire outlook of the Wild's offseason: If Heatley were to come to Minnesota, then the question has to be asked if that interests Marian Gaborik in staying.
If it does, then back the dump truck of money up to Gaborik's house, sign him, and let them create the offensive magic that Minnesota has so desperately needed for next season.
That is, for the 20 games Gaborik will play before tripping over the blueline and sitting out the rest of the season with a bruised shin.
Even if Heatley doesn't end up in Wild Country, though, I have a sneaking suspicion that Fletcher is going to be actively pursuing something else during the draft.
10. The Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia is another one of those teams that has put out feelers on available players, but also has a few of their own they'd like to part with.
Flyers fans have a big interest in Bouwmeester and are salivating at the opportunity for him to round out their defensive corps for years to come. On the other side of the coin, though, word is they'd like to move Daniel Briere out of town, with Montreal being the ideal destination for the Gatineau native, despite Briere's no-trade clause.
The money, time, and logistics tied up in Briere's deal make it a little harder to move the perpetually injured center, but with Montreal in a state of flux approaching the offseason, they could use a veteran center with a stable future.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can do so through his profile or email him at email@example.com. You can also check out his previous work in his archives.
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