Jason Brough

Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan, back, stands on the bench behind Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, from left, during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Oilers coach has no problem with Taylor Hall trade: ‘We needed to shore up a hole’

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Picture a man who’s lost in the desert, wandering aimlessly, dying of thirst.

Now imagine somebody rides up on a camel and offers to sell that man a bottle of water, but the price is $100.

It’s a lot to pay for a bottle of water.

The alternative, however, is more aimless wandering, in hopes of finding a better deal for the one thing you really, really need.

That, essentially, is how the Edmonton Oilers have justified trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.

“It’s insanity if you keep banging your head against a wall,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We needed to shore up a hole. I know there is a lot of talk about (losing) that dynamic offensive guy, but we also needed a good shutdown 20-minute-a-night guy, and we believe we have that in Larsson.

“We think we’ve added a No.1 and a No. 2. We’ve added (Oscar) Klefbom and Larsson to our lineup. We didn’t have Klefbom very long and Larsson’s coming in, so that’s a significant change. If they can stay healthy and play at a high level, we think we’ll be better back there.”

And to help replace Hall up front, now there’s Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi.

But the key will be Larsson. He needs to pan out, otherwise there’s no justifying what the Oilers gave up.

“I feel he’s barely scratched the surface,” GM Peter Chiarelli said of the 23-year-old former fourth overall draft pick. “He moves the puck, defends well. He can log a lot of minutes and match up against all the top forwards.”

The Oilers might not be done making moves either. Rumors continue to swirl about a potential Tyson Barrie acquisition from Colorado, and McLellan didn’t exactly quash the speculation that something like that could happen.

“I know Peter is not done constructing the team,” McLellan said. “We won’t know what our complete team is, probably, until late August.”

Related: The Wings’ search for a ‘top-three defenseman’ may last until training camp

Evander Kane facing non-criminal harassment charges

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  Evander Kane #9 of the Buffalo Sabres during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sabres defeated the Coyotes 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The future may be bright for the Buffalo Sabres, but it remains to be seen if Evander Kane will be part of it.

From the Buffalo News, here’s the latest on the 24-year-old winger, who can’t seem to stop making headlines for the wrong reasons:

Sabres forward Evander Kane put his hands on four people – three women and a man – at a Chippewa Street bar during the early morning of June 24 but he will face non-criminal harassment charges for his actions against just two women, two police sources familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.

The charges will be lodged in connection with grabbing two women – one of them by the neck – and are based on witness statements and surveillance camera video, the police sources said.

Kane also yanked the hair and grabbed the throat of a third woman, but she has not come forward to press charges, the sources said. In addition, Kane grabbed a bouncer after the bouncer warned the hockey star to stop his aggressive behavior, the police sources said.

For the record, Kane, through his attorney, has denied any wrongdoing.

“Evander steadfastly maintains that he did not do anything wrong. We have seen the videos and they do not support that Kane did anything wrong,” Paul J. Cambria told the News. “I am sick and tired of anonymous sources making inflammatory allegations.”

But regardless of what exactly happened (here’s some video footage, reportedly from that night), Sabres GM Tim Murray admitted recently that his patience with Kane was beginning to wear thin.

“He’s going to have to pick and choose his spots when he goes out a lot better than he does, and he’s going to have to behave himself a lot better than he has obviously,” Murray said. “Whether he has done these things or not, or he is guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about, that’s for sure.”

Recall in February when Kane promised to shape up after sleeping in and missing practice following a night of partying at the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto.

“I wanted to apologize to my teammates, the Pegula family as well, our coaching staff and general manager,” Kane said. “It’s something that should have never happened. It’s something that I can promise you won’t happen again and it’s something that I’m definitely going to learn from.”

It was a promise to be more professional, to start acting like a grown-up.

Not even half a year later, he was in the news again, on the day Buffalo was hosting the NHL Entry Draft, no less.

Eventually, enough could become enough for Murray. He paid a big price to get Kane out of a bad situation in Winnipeg, but Kane can become an unrestricted free agent in two years. Right now, the way things are going, it’s hard to picture Sabres ownership signing him to a big contract extension. 

Okposo on joining the Sabres: ‘There’s so much skill, and the future is bright’

New York Islanders' Kyle Okposo leaves the ice after Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Penguins defeated the Islanders in overtime 5-4. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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When Kyle Okposo was with the Islanders, he got to play with a couple of pretty good centers in John Tavares and Frans Nielsen.

Now he’s in Buffalo, where he’ll get to play with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel.

Those are some pretty good centers, too.

In fact, they’re a big reason Okposo chose to sign in Buffalo. He believes the Sabres have the talent to win, and that they’ll start to win soon. Sure, the $42 million they committed to give him over the next seven years was a decent reason too, but the situation still had to be right.

“I’ve been saying it for a week, that Ryan is one of the smartest players, one of the smartest centers in the league, in my opinion,” Okposo said today, per the Olean Times Herald. “Jack’s got nowhere to go but up. His ceiling’s so high. He’s going to be a tremendous player in this league for a long time.”

Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen could be pretty tremendous as well. They’re still only 20 and 21, respectively. If the Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, even better.

The challenge now is to actually turn all that young talent into a contender. Suffice to say, expectations have been raised, and it won’t be acceptable to finish at the bottom of the standings anymore. Remember that GM Tim Murray is not an overly patient man. He said two years ago, “I don’t buy into five-year rebuilds.”

At the very least, the Sabres should expect to compete for a spot in the postseason next year. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.

“There’s so much skill, and the future is bright,” Okposo said, per the Buffalo News. “I really believe that we can win here, and that’s what sold me. That’s why you play the game. You play the game to win a Stanley Cup, to win a championship, to raise banners. I think this team has the ability to do that.”

Related: Sabres are rebuilding at an ‘accelerated rate’

Devils lock up Palmieri with five-year contract

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New Jersey Devils in action against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on October 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Washington Capitals won, 5-3. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils announced today that they’ve re-signed forward Kyle Palmieri to a five-year contract with a cap hit of $4.65 million.

Palmieri, 25, was New Jersey’s leading scorer last season, with 30 goals and 27 assists. Devils GM Ray Shero had been hoping to get the right winger locked up to a long-term deal, so mission accomplished there. The signing also means the two sides will avoid an arbitration hearing.

Yesterday, the Devils announced they’d signed Sergey Kalinin to a one-year, $800,000 contract. Forward Reid Boucher and defenseman Reece Scarlett are now their only remaining restricted free agents.

The Palmieri signing caps off a busy spell for the Devils, who last week acquired Taylor Hall from Edmonton for Adam Larsson, then signed Ben Lovejoy and Vern Fiddler in free agency.

The Wings’ search for a ‘top-three defenseman’ may last until training camp

Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings
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Ken Holland would “love to get a top-three defenseman,” but it may not be until training camp that he can make his best offer.

Before he does anything too bold, the Red Wings’ general manager wants to know what he’s got up front.

“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland told the Detroit News. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”

It was reported a couple of weeks ago that the St. Louis Blues had asked for Dylan Larkin in a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has since said he might not trade Shattenkirk at all.

It’s a game of chicken, basically. The Wings obviously aren’t giving up Larkin, the 19-year-old center who could be the next “face of the franchise.” But losing, say, Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if a young prospect like Anthony Mantha came to camp looking ready to be an NHL regular.

Per General Fanager, the Wings have 15 healthy forwards under contract for next season. That doesn’t include Teemu Pulkkinen, a restricted free agent who may not be ready for camp after offseason shoulder surgery. But it does include Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, each of whom remain waivers exempt.

“If some of the kids come to camp and they haven’t taken a step forward and they can go back to the American league, then they’ll go back to the American league,” said Holland.

“We’ll make a decision in September.”

Related: Like Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler is also surprised he hasn’t been traded yet