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NHL Rumors: Carolina Hurricanes may trade No. 5 pick at NHL Draft

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Carolina may be interested in moving its high pick at the NHL Draft. (USATSI)
Carolina may be interested in moving its high pick at the NHL Draft. (USATSI)

The Carolina Hurricanes are in a nice position at No. 5 for the 2013 NHL Draft. Some scouts have said this is a draft in which any of the top five players could be considered first-overall-worthy prospects. With that in mind, owning a top-five pick carries a lot of value both in terms of which player a team can select and what kind of trade returns it could command.

It sounds as though the Hurricanes may be interested in shopping the fifth overall pick if the right scenario presents itself, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

The question remains, which player among the top five is worth passing over in favor of a trade for Carolina?

With Colorado claiming they will take one of the consensus top three forwards -- Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Aleksander Barkov -- with the No. 1 pick, as opposed to taking perceived favorite, defenseman Seth Jones, the dynamic of the top five of the draft has changed somewhat.

It would be hard to see Carolina passing on any of the aforementioned four players if one was available to them at No. 5. The wild card is Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin, who is one of the elite offensive talents in the draft, but carries with him some baggage.

Nichushkin has said he will remain in North America only if he is in the NHL. If not, he will go back to the KHL's Dynamo Moscow. That may scare some teams off, despite his immense talent.

According to Alexander, Carolina will be interviewing Nichushkin on Wednesday, with other pre-draft interviews on Friday. It should also be noted that Nichushkin's agent, Mark Gandler, also represents Alexander Semin, who signed a five-year extension with the Hurricanes this season.

What will be interesting for Carolina, if it tries to deal the pick, is how the trade value is affected based on which players are remaining. Regardless of which prospect is left, Carolina should command a sizable return. Based on what Alexander is hearing, the Hurricanes would require a later first-round pick in 2013 as part of a deal. There should be some suitors.

It's also interesting to note that the Canes are unlikely to try to move up, according to Alexander. Considering what it would cost to do so, it's not much of a surprise. With how stacked the top of this draft is, there's not enough separation between the top five players to warrant giving up extra assets to move up a few spots.

Prices usually only go up on draft day when it comes to trades, so if the Hurricanes aren't enamored with whichever of the big five are left and there's a fair-value offer out there, it could provide a nice return. If no deal materializes, the Hurricanes will still be able to grab an elite prospect that could make an impact as soon as next season.

It's basically a win-win for Carolina.

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