Top Line: NHL free agents wooed; Penguins gong show; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The NHL's free-agent interview period starts today, and it's a game-changer for the players. "The idea is to get a head start on finding out who is interested, to talk about potential destinations," says one agent. "This period has really taken away the shotgun element to this process."
• Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Brad Richards and Dave Bolland are among the players who will be listening to offers from potential suitors over the next few days.
• It's going to be fascinating to see who wants to talk to Thomas Vanek and how interested they are in him. Mike Russo suspects that Vanek might have to settle for a one-year deal if he wants to play in Minnesota.
• Are the Blackhawks ready to trade one of their top wingers to bring in the second-line center they desperately need? Nick Kypreos says Patrick Sharp could be on the move, which suggests the player they're looking for in return will be of substantial value.
• Kings goalie Jonathan Quick underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair an issue with his wrist. Will he heal up in time for training camp?
• The gong show that is Pittsburgh's coaching search took another unexpected turn on Tuesday as Portland Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston emerged as a leading candidate to replace Dan Bylsma. No knock on Johnston, but is a junior guy with no NHL head coaching experience really the best choice to turn things around for Crosby, Malkin and company?
• A more circumspect Sidney Crosby talks here about what it means to be named the NHL's Most Valuable Player at 26 as opposed to 19.
• Eric Wilbur says Boston's dominance at the NHL Awards highlights how grossly the Bruins underachieved in the playoffs.
• Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray shies away from attention, but he survived his brush with the awards show spotlight.
• The agent for pending UFA Ryan Callahan says talks have been productive with the Lightning, leading to speculation he could re-sign with the team as soon as today. If he ends up sticking around, that gun-to-the-head trade with the Rangers that GM Steve Yzerman pulled off will go down as the year's best next to the Marian Gaborik swap. UPDATE: The Lightning announced this morning that they have signed Callahan to a six-year deal worth $34.8 million.
• The Bolts created the cap space for Callahan by initiating a compliance buyout for troubled winger Ryan Malone.
• The Kings re-signed defenseman Matt Greene, which makes sense given the way he played during the team's run to the Cup. But his deal soaks up a lot of cap space, leaving less to get Gaborik back in the fold. This could mean the end of the line for Willie Mitchell in L.A.
• If the San Jose Sharks are truly gearing up for a rebuild, they'll be hard pressed to make any significant changes without the cooperation of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. So far, that's not happening.
• Paul Stastny intends to test the market as a free agent next week, but says he'll give the Avalanche a call when he gets a feel for what other teams are offering. Nice of him to offer the team that courtesy, but if Colorado insists on staying between $5-6 million, he's as good as gone.
• Draft prospect Josh Ho-Sang wonders if the color of his skin affects the perception of him as a player. Steve Simmons explores that angle, among others, in an interview with the most controversial player in this year's crop of talent.