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Top Line: Alternative NHL awards, final draft rankings, more links

Photo: Keith Gillett/Icon SMI

One of the biggest free agent busts of recent years, winger Ville Leino earns Least Valuable Player honors for scoring no goals and 15 points in 58 games last season.

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• On the eve of the NHL Awards ceremonies, here are a few alternative "honors" to consider. Glad to see Ville Leino picking up something other than his jock for a change.

Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf and other NHLers who are in town for tonight's awards ceremony (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) weigh in on Las Vegas as a possible NHL expansion site. Sounds like they wouldn't mind it at all. (s/t to Sharly Payne)

• Toews was in a talkative mood yesterday. Here he is on the state of his contract negotiations with the Blackhawks. Lots of speculation that he and Patrick Kane will sign identical deals to be announced on the same day.

• After flaming out in the second round, the Anaheim Ducks need to make a big splash this offseason. The trick for their trading partners will be to pry a couple of the organization's talented prospects out of the hands of GM Bob Murray.

• TSN's Bob McKenzie has released his final NHL Draft rankings. Pretty solid list, as always.

• Former referee Paul Stewart talks about his complicated relationship with the late Pat Burns and what it means to him to see the former coach finally admitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

• David Shoalts says it's no coincidence that Burns finally made the grade after a pair of his ex-bosses were removed from the selection equation.

• Is Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli making the fatal mistake of overvaluing his roster? Michael Felger says a team that failed to get out of the second round needs more work than a fresh coat of paint.

• Looks like Boston fans won't have the anonymous Chad Johnson to kick around anymore. Meet next year's backup: Niklas Svedberg.

Could Chad Johnson become the next Anton Khudobin after being cut loose by the B's? He performed very well as Tuukka Rask's understudy. Winnipeg makes some sense as a landing spot.

• The Arizona Coyotes (yeah, that's still hard to type) are ready to have recent first rounders Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson compete for roster spots next season. But please don't call it a youth movement.

Patrick Marleau knows that changes are coming in San Jose. He just hopes that he isn't one of them. He probably doesn't have much to worry about. With his contract and postseason reputation, he'd be a tough player for GM Doug Wilson to get much value for in a trade.

• The fans in St. Louis think the Blues need to add a high-scoring winger this summer. Jeff Gordon says they've got it all wrong.

• The New York Islanders know they can't simply expect all of their fans to follow them to Brooklyn. So now, a year before their move, the effort is underway to show them it'll be worth their while to come along.

Scott Hartnell was "shocked and upset" when Flyers GM Ron Hextall asked him to waive his no-trade clause, but the chance to go to a promising team like Columbus made him say "yes."

• Michael Arace is pretty impressed by Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen in the wake of the Hartnell acquisition.

Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian is at a career crossroads and the Jets aren't going anywhere until he becomes the player they believe he can be.

• Despite a massive turnover in its executive ranks, Hockey Canada is already looking ahead to defending gold in South Korea in 2018.

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