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Top Line: NHL free-agent frenzy arrives, more must-reads

Avalanche center Paul Stastny's destination and the status of RFA defenseman P.K. Subban's contract talks with Montreal are two of the day's intriguing storylines. Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Avalanche center Paul Stastny's destination and the status of RFA defenseman P.K. Subban's contract talks with Montreal are two of the day's intriguing storylines.

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

• Happy Canada Day, and welcome to the opening of free-agent frenzy. Mike Zeisberger kicks silly season off with a look at the wants, needs and salary-cap status of all 30 NHL teams.

• Eric Duhatschek says what we're all thinking: the free agency negotiation period guarantees that signings will come fast and furious once noon rolls around. You might want to be by a TV (NHL Network will start carrying Sportsnet's HOCKEY CENTRAL Signing Season at 11 a.m. ET) when things get underway.

• Mark Spector looks at how the Maple Leafs are haunted by past free agency decisions, and has a few updates on where some of today's top UFAs might be headed.

• With the financial handcuffs removed and more than $30 million to spend under the cap, Panthers GM Dale Tallon would like to be busy on Tuesday. The question for him is if fat stacks of cash and the lure of beachfront living will be enough to convince top players to consider playing for Florida.

• Their budget busted, the Eastern Conference champion Rangers are set to lose three key players to free agency. It's never easy to keep the gang together after a good season, is it?

• After a potential deal with the Flyers for Vincent Lecavalier fell through, the Predators are still in the market for help at center. Vinnie's best days are far behind him, but he could still be an asset to a team that's struggling to fill the position with a veteran presence.

• The Blackhawks need help down the middle, but can they afford it today? Tracey Myers looks at that and four more questions facing cap-strapped Chicago.

• Adrian Dater explains what the Avalanche were thinking when they swapped P.A. Parenteau for Daniel Briere.

• Sabres GM Tim Murray has his sights set on a couple of former Buffalo players. I think at least one of them is a good bet to return.

Murray's candor is winning him a lot of fans in upstate New York.

• The Penguins used to be in the front row when the top free agents flaunted their wares. This year, however, Pittsburgh has its sights set a little lower. That's probably the best approach the Pens have taken in years.

• Here's a play-by-play of how the Sam Gagner deals went down over the weekend. It was almost as complicated as you'd expect.

• Should Barry Trotz skate Alex Ovechkin on the right side or the left next season in Washington? One interpretation of some fancy stats suggests that it doesn't matter.

• Joe Warmington says that no one deserves to be awarded the Order of Canada more than Don CherrySo why was Grapes overlooked again?

• Is the USHL really as good as, or even better than, the Canadian major junior leagues at developing talent? The numbers from this past weekend's NHL Draft make an interesting case that it is.

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