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Top Line: NHL trade and contract talks swirling, more links

Photo: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated

Plum free agent Ryan Milller could be an ideal answer to Vancouver's ongoing questions in net now that both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are gone.

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

• Steve Yzerman had a glut of forwards and too much cash on the books. He took care of both problems with a wild night of swapping that saw him flip Sam Gagner in a matter of minutes and clear more than $5 million from his cap while adding three depth picks. This guy might turn out to be a pretty decent GM, eh?

• The Phoenix Coyotes, looking for a center to replace the recently bought-out Mike Ribeiro, were thrilled to take Gagner off Yzerman's hands for the bargain price of a sixth rounder. The deal looks even better with the Bolts holding on to $1.6 million of his salary.

• Jim Matheson writes that after seven seasons without a playoff appearance, it was the Oilers who let Gagner down, and not the other way around.

• With Gagner gone, Edmonton now has two holes to fill at center ice. Just a guess here, but I don't think free agency will provide the answers.

• It's clear after this weekend that GM Tim Murray has replaced the departed Ryan Miller as the face of the Buffalo Sabres. It hasn't taken him long to make a strong impression both in the city and around the league.

• Jason Botchford says it's time for the Canucks to start spending some money.

• Ryan Miller might be willing to take some of it off of Vancouver's hands.

Contract negotiations are at a standstill between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen. The Jackets wisely want a bridge deal, while the young center is looking to cash in long-term. You can't blame him for trying, but hopefully he's not dug in. It's fine as an early negotiating ploy, but he has to realize that he's a kid with one good NHL season on his resumé. The Jackets need him, but not at any price.

• Stop me if you've heard this one: James Neal walks into a bar and...

• New Capitals coach Barry Trotz has taken a gentle first step in the effort to remake Alex Ovechkin, saying the superstar forward needs "less glide" in his game. Well, that's certainly a diplomatic way of saying it.

The Capitals are looking to remodel their blueline via free agency and they're hoping to land two of the best options: Christian Ehrhoff and Matt Niskanen.

James Reimer has reportedly asked the Maple Leafs for a trade. Can't blame him after the way he's been treated over the past year. Winnipeg might want to give Toronto a call.

• Steve Politi warns Martin Brodeur about the notorious history of superstars who make late-career team changes. I'm guessing Marty will take it under advisement.

• It's looking more like three Montreal Canadiens veterans are heading to free agency. Pat Hickey names names and has the latest on the P.K. Subban negotiations as well. Spoiler alert: if Subban is not the lead, you can bet they're not going well.

• Subban says he's too busy to worry about contract talks, or give much thought to hockey, over the summer.

• Well now, here's something we didn't know about Sam Reinhart.

• Canucks fans rallied at a Vancouver hospital in support of the ailing Gino Odjick. And then this happened.

• Here's a look at the surprising decision to set next year's salary cap at just $69 million.

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