Top Line: NHL trade and draft rumors fly; Wild get aggressive; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Looks like the Minnesota Wild will be aggressive come July 1. The team contacted the agents for Matt Niskanen, Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek and others on the opening day of the NHL's contract discussion period.
• Bruce Garrioch provides a list of five teams that have inquired about trading for Jason Spezza and offers up some draft day scuttlebutt in today's column.
• The Vancouver Canucks started their free-agent shopping early, contacting both Ryan Miller and David Bolland to assess their interest in coming out west. Pretty easy to see how both could help a team that's looking to regain its footing.
• Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks are in the market for a second-line center. No, Patrick Sharp will not be part of any deal to obtain one. Or so his agent is telling us.
• Here we are, one day out from the draft, and there's still no consensus who will go first overall. Be sure to check out our mock draft later today.
• Here's an angle you don't see covered every day: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Landeskog talk about their finances and the advice they'd offer the draft class of 2014. Great stuff.
• A few of this year's top prospects spent part of the day at Citizens Bank Park taking batting practice with one of baseball's most devoted hockey fans.
• Controversial prospect Josh Ho-Sang had to clarify some of his comments that were made public in a piece by Steve Simmons that ran on Tuesday. Ho-Sang's intentions may not have come across clearly, but none of this does anything to mitigate his status as a high-risk selection.
• A new coach and the first pick in the draft make for exciting times in South Florida, but they also speak to the depth of the rut the Panthers find themselves trying to escape. Greg Cote says it is time for this team to claw its way back to relevance.
• Nashville's first round pick is in play, but will another team pony up a top-six forward for a chance to grab a long-term prospect? Don't count on it.
• Dejan Kovacevic is willing to look past Jim Rutherford's face-plant moments and embrace the opportunity for the Penguins and new coach Mike Johnston to grow together.
• Adam Proteau includes more Kate Upton among his four fixes for the NHL Awards show. He's a very smart man.
• Tim Leiweke says Toronto has earned the right to host every major hockey event, including the World Cup of Hockey, the All-Star Game, the NHL Draft and the Winter Classic. And he's not going to stop until he gets them.
• He may never win that Norris Trophy he wants (and probably deserves), but there could be another honor awaiting Shea Weber down the road.
• The great Dave Stubbs talks to Andrei Markov about his career and the deal that sets him up to be a Canadien for life.
• Well, this is one way to ensure that Alex Ovechkin does some back checking.
• The University of Ottawa has fired its head hockey coach and suspended the team for the 2014-15 season after an investigation into allegations of drinking and sexual misconduct by some players during a trip to Thunder Bay in February. Have to feel for all the kids who weren't involved in the incidents, but full marks to the school for setting a strict standard of integrity.