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Hurricanes happy to land Teravainen

Carolina GM Francis also acquires Bickell in trade with Blackhawks

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes made a move to strengthen the forward position Wednesday, acquiring Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a third-round selection in 2017.

Teravainen, selected 18th in the 2012 draft, had 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 78 games in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL.

"His game improved this year on both sides of the puck," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. "He has good hockey sense and skating ability. We've been a team that struggles to score goals. I think he will help us in 5-on-5 play and on the power play."

The Blackhawks were forced to part with Teravainen in order to move Bickell's contract. Bickell is heading into the final season of a four-year, $16 million contract that will pay him $4.5 million in 2016-17. Last season, he had no goals and two assists in 23 games before being sent to Rockford of the American Hockey League.

"In fairness to (Chicago general manager) Stan Bowman, he's done a [heck] of job putting together a pretty good team there," Francis said. "It's because of that you sometimes get into situations like this with the salary cap. From our standpoint, it was a good opportunity to add another young piece to our lineup."

Video: CHI@VAN: Blackhawks move the puck, Teravainen scores

The trade marks the second consecutive year the Hurricanes have acquired two forwards from Chicago during the offseason; last September, Carolina acquired Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom in a trade for two prospects and a 2015 fifth-round pick.

Bickell, 30, will try to rejuvenate his career with a familiar coach; He played for Hurricanes coach Bill Peters in Rockford for two seasons before making the full-time jump to Chicago in 2010-11. He established himself as a promising power forward during Chicago's run to the Stanley Cup in 2013, scoring nine goals and 17 points in 23 games during the playoffs.

"This is a fresh start for him," Francis said. "He's a big body (6-foot-4, 223 pounds). He's shown in the past he can move up and down the lineup. Even if he's not scoring goals, there's other things he can do for us to contribute to our success. Hopefully he can get his game back to where we think it can be."

Teravainen gives the Hurricanes a potential scoring forward who could address their most glaring need. The Hurricanes scored 198 goals this season, tied for third-fewest in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In Carolina, he will have a chance to grab a spot among the top-six forwards.

"That would be our hope," Francis said. "It was a different situation for him in Chicago, where they're so talented and so deep. With the young players we have in the lineup, he's a perfect fit in that regard. We think he has a real good chance to jump into that role, absolutely."

Teravainen played behind Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov at center in Chicago. He will get a look there with the Hurricanes, but his greater value is his versatility.

"That decision will be made when we get into camp," Francis said. "He can play all three positions. It depends how the lines shake out and if we're able to do anything else in the course of the summer."

Teravainen's presence in the lineup will make a young team even younger next season. For much of last season, the Hurricanes lineup had 10 players who were 23 or younger. Francis is willing to live with whatever growing pains come with the territory.

"There's always risk," Francis said. "With an older guy, you're always worried whether he can do it another year or if he is going to drop off. There's a little bit of concern with inexperience and the pressure these guys put on themselves. But as a group, they showed a lot of maturity as they progressed last season."

The Hurricanes are likely to end up with a major overhaul among their forwards; Versteeg and captain Eric Staal were traded prior to the NHL Trade Deadline this season. Riley Nash, Brad Malone, Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry have not been offered a contract. Francis said he will make final decisions based on how the next couple weeks play out.

"Just because we've done this one deal, [it] doesn't mean we're sitting tight," Francis said. "We will still be working the phone lines and exploring what's out there. I'm not saying we will get something done, but I won't say we're not trying to do something either."

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