By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Ken Campbell has surveyed the landscape and says the NHL is ready to expand to 32 teams. Now.
• Nothing better than walking into contract negotiations right after winning the Stanley Cup, eh? That’s doing it like a boss. Still, sounds like both sides were happy after the Blackhawks inked coach Joel Quenneville to a new three-year deal.
• Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff worked late into the night to finally secure a new deal for top winger Blake Wheeler Hard to believe it took so long though when you look at the numbers: six years and $33.6 million. That’s an AAV of $5.6 million, more than doubling his old paycheck. Zach Bogosian, the last remaining Jet without a deal, has to be smiling after seeing that contract.
• Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky headline the roster of Canada’s all-time Olympic team as selected by the Canadian Olympic committee. Not a bad apple in the bunch.
• The stick used by Wayne Gretzky to score his 1,000th goal–as a youth hockey player, that is–is up for auction. You won’t believe what they think it’ll go for.
• Tim Leiweke was surprised by the negative reaction to news that he’d extended the tenure of Toronto GM Dave Nonis with a five-year deal. Seems like Leiweke is surprised by the reaction to pretty much everything he says. He’s not quite grasping the Toronto market yet, is he?
• Speaking of surprise, there was a lot of it expressed yesterday after news broke that former Sabre Nathan Gerbe had signed a two-way deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Many viewed it as a sign of a tough market. I’m thinking it’s more an accurate reflection of the demand for a player who is a great story, but no guarantee to be a real contributor at the NHL level.
• I love a good list, and Yahoo offers up a doozy: a ranking of the NHL’s top 30 goalies. Couple of crazy calls? You bet!
• Adrian Dater spins some gold as he watches an old Avalanche game. This is a good bit. Why aren’t more of us doing this?
• A report out of Sweden has Vancouver defender Alex Edler meeting with the IIHF about the suspension he received after a knee-on-knee hit against Canada’s Eric Staal at the World Championships. If he loses his bid to have his sentence reduced, he’s likely out for the Olympics.
• Tom Gulitti says Lou Lamoriello has done his best to fill the holes in New Jersey’s roster but his choices have compromised the team’s speed. It’s a great point. If speed doesn’t kill, then the lack of it sure does, and the Devils look like a team that will have to slow the game down if they want to compete. Should make for some exciting hockey at The Rock.
• David Staples argues that keeping a young core intact is worth the risk of a player washing out while under a long-term deal. That means the sooner the Oilers get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz signed to extensions, the better.
• Jonathan Willis breaks out the fancy stats to discuss the merits of acquiring defender Cody Fransson, the RFA who reportedly is being shopped by the Maple Leafs.
• People thought Shawn Horcoff would be impossible to move because of his contract and production, but the Oilers found a buyer in Dallas. But what if Ales Hemsky actually is untradeable?
• Brian Bickell explains a kinda gross injury to Chris Kuc, who also has updates on the health of Chicago forwards Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus.
• The Ducks extended 2009 first rounder, and Olympic camp invitee Kyle Palmieri with a new deal last night. Seems like a decent contract for a kid who still has a lot to prove in this league.
• So, Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 21-year-old who happens to be Washington’s top prospect is already making plans to head back to Russia like Ilya Kovalchuk…before he even gets to the NHL. Yeah, this is a kid you want to go into battle with.
• Canada just beat the U.S. to win another hockey gold medal. In July. In the desert.