Top Line: NHL free agent frenzy; Darryl Sutter's best one-liners; more
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• According to the Canadian Press, the Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Winter Classic. The game will reportedly be played in Nationals Park.
• Free agency is set to begin on July 1, and in a rather significant change, the NHL is now allowing teams and player agents to discuss "general parameters of a potential future contractual relationship" with other clubs' restricted or unrestricted free agents during a specified interview period that begins next Wednesday. It could mean a slew of quick signings as soon as the green light goes on.
• The Sharks have been talking about rebuilding and have already made some bold moves, including trading defenseman Dan Boyle's rights to the Islanders. Speculation is that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will be the next to go. But is such housecleaning warranted or is San Jose just having a nervous breakdown? Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News thinks it may be the latter.
• The Ducks are walking away from pending UFA forwards Saku Koivu, Daniel Winnik and goalie Jonas Hiller, according to GM Bob Murray. This could mean that Koivu will join fellow Finn Teemu Selanne in retirement. A bit of a shame, as Koivu deserves a better send-off.
• That said, does this mean that Anaheim is plotting a big move to fill the hole at center? It is believed that the Ducks are a major contender in the Jason Spezza sweepstakes, but Senators GM Bryan Murray may hold out until he gets what he wants. "I don't think when you trade a player of Jason's calibre that you ever win," he said. "I know that. I think we try to get the best return we can and if it's not satisfactory we can't do it."
• Let's not forget, there may be another big center on the market: Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. And if he gets traded, my goodness, look at the salary cap space in Vancouver, especially after the presumed David Booth buyout.
• Kings Insider Jon Rosen has probably heard Darryl Sutter speak the most this year. So he put together this great compilation of the reticent, ultra-literal zen master's best one-liners from the season.
• The Hurricanes will introduce their new coach, Bill Peters, who was an assistant with the Red Wings the last three years. Detroit thinks pretty highly of him, and that's usually a good sign.
• With Carolina hiring Peters, three teams are now looking for new coaches. Given Darryl Sutter's success in Los Angeles, and Ken Hitchcock's turnaround of the Blues, the CBC's Tim Wharnsby suggests that the league is rediscovering the importance of NHL bench experience.
• GM Jim Rutherford says that the Penguins are "real close" to finding their new coach. Early rumblings suggest that Willie Desjardins of the AHL's Texas Stars is the favorite. Or is he?
• In Florida, the Panthers are down to two finalists: newly unemployed Dan Bylsma and Gerard Gallant, who coached the Blue Jackets for 136 games from 2004 to '06. Gallant seems to be the front-runner in Sunrise, despite Bylsma's experience behind Pittsburgh's bench. And they both seem to have pushed Marc Crawford, who has 15 years of NHL experience with four different teams, out of the picture.
• The NHL released the official order of selection for the 2014 entry draft, which will begin on Friday, June 27, in Philadelphia. Florida has the No. 1 choice, though Panthers GM Dale Tallon has said he's "very open" to offers for the top pick. At least eight teams have shown interest in dealing for it, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
• The Avalanche will start serious talks with Paul Stastny next week, according to Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. But Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla, for one, thinks that Stastny should go if he wants too much money.
• The Red Wings have re-signed goalie Jonas Gustavsson for one more year.
• Evgeni Malkin catches fish and swims with sharks. He is the most interesting man in the world. Or something like that.