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Top Line: Perils of long-term deals; Isles prospect dazzles; more links

In 2006, Dany Heatley, then 25 years old and a Calder Trophy winner, was one of the NHL's best offensive players, but his skills deteriorated when he reached 30. Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

In 2006, Dany Heatley, then 25 years old and a Calder Trophy winner, was one of the NHL's best offensive players, but his skills deteriorated when he reached 30.

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

• Jason Kay spotlights the risk of long-term deals by reminding us that Dany Heatley was the Patrick Kane of the NHL eight years ago. Amazing how quickly things can go south for a player who was on the verge of greatness.​

• The Blue Jackets announced this morning that they've re-signed second-line center Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year contract extension. No word yet on the AAV of the deal, but you can bet that Sidney Crosby won't be happy.

• Josh Ho-Sang dazzled in his debut at the New York Islanders' development camp. Feel free to get excited now, all ye long-suffering Sons of Al Arbour.

• Negotiations between the Avalanche and Ryan O'Reilly are not going well. It looks like the two sides are headed to arbitration, which doesn't bode well for his long-term future with the club. In fact, our ol' pal Adrian Dater suggests a trade could happen at any time ... and he explains why the sooner, the better for Colorado.

• Considering the success they've had with Borje Salming and Mats Sundin, it's no surprise that the Maple Leafs are stocking up on Swedes. Not sure they'll be able to convince Don Cherry it's the right way to go, though.

• When the KHL is throwing money around, you can't blame Vladimir Sobotka for ditching the NHL. Still, his defection is a significant loss for the St. Louis Blues. Jeremy Rutherford explains what they'll be missing.

• The cap-strapped Blackhawks need to make a move before the start of the season, and this defenseman's name keeps popping up as the guy who has got to go.

• A one-year, two-way contract suggests that former first rounder Brett Connolly has entered the Last Chance Saloon in Tampa Bay. Kid had terrific hands, but injuries and attitude issues have derailed what was set up as a very promising career.

• Stephanie Coratti has the story of how a washed-out OHL defenseman made a lasting mark on the game without setting foot on NHL ice.

• ”I have a dark side,” says Montreal prospect Brett Lernout.

• Don't think Mikko Koivu is a first-line caliber center? The fancy stats suggest otherwise.

• Sharks GM Doug Wilson says he was talking about organizational culture and hierarchy when he used the word “rebuild”, not the on-ice product. Sounds like someone got called to the woodshed by the boss.

• Gotta hand it to Capitals prospect Michal Cajkovsky. The kid already handles the media like a pro.

• Australians are starting to take notice of the NHL after one of their own, Nathan Walker, was drafted by the Caps last month. Here's a pretty awesome interactive introduction to the sport produced by one of the local papers to help Aussies understand the game.

• Want more Caps? How about this piece on the big guy with the beard. And how's this for awesome: he adds “The Beard” as a notation to every autograph he signs.

• Jakub Vrana may need to work on his defensive play, but he seems to have a handle on the offensive end of the game. Those are some pretty sick mitts.

• A former All-Star is suing his insurance company for $18 million in the wake of a career-ending eye injury.

• South Korea earns a berth in the 2018 Winter Olympics hockey tournament by virtue of being the host of the Games, but the world's 23rd ranked team knows it isn't quite ready for the big stage. That's why it's in Vancouver looking for some help.

• Coming off a down year, there are much higher hopes for the QMJHL at the 2015 NHL draft. Jeremy Roy and Daniel Sprong lead an impressive group with first-round potential.

 

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