An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Pavel Datsyuk at No. 5? Taylor Hall at 39? Separated Sedins? TSN offers up its annual list of the NHL’s Top-50 players and it’s sure to start bar brawls all over Canada. And maybe Buffalo.
• Bruce Garrioch, who doesn’t mind letting you know he writes Canada’s best Sunday column, identifies the 12 players who’ll be at the center of trade talks this season. At least until they sign extensions.
• The Maple Leafs finally came to terms with restricted free agent Cody Franson this morning. So Toronto saved a few bucks now, but could end up paying big next year. And Franson, who missed most of camp, is all but certain to get off to a slow start. Well done, fellas.
• The Leafs had to be hoping that Jonathan Bernier would put on a blue jersey and immediately assert himself as the team’s top goalie. That hasn’t happened.
• As soon as Vinnie Viola officially takes over as new owner of the Panthers — which could happen as soon as today — look for the team to announce the signing of Tim Thomas. It might be one of the last deals of the offseason, but it could end up being the most important.
• Kay Whitmore, who is featured in Michael Farber’s centerpiece story in SI mag’s NHL preview this week, is kind of like Batman. Only instead of sending criminals to Arkham, he’s out to catch NHL goalies in the act of flouting the league’s new equipment rules. Plus, he only wears a regular suit, so as not to inspire fear in anyone.