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Top Line: Summer of stats; overhauling the minors; more news

Is Alex Ovechkin more stats savvy than we realize? The Capitals' star doesn't see the big deal about plus-minus ratings (he was –35 last season). Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Is Alex Ovechkin more stats savvy than we realize? The Capitals' star doesn't see the big deal about plus-minus ratings (he was –35 last season).

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

• With three prominent hockey stats bloggers recently hired by NHL teams (and another’s secret identity revealed), some fear has precipitated of late that, as in other sports, the most interesting hockey research has vacated the public sphere. But fear not, there’s still a lot of ground being broken out in the open…

• Pension Plan Puppets has an interesting look at the Maple Leafs’ defensemen’s zone exit stats last season (i.e. measures of how well they moved the puck back up the ice). Interesting takeaways: Morgan Rielly is a future star and Dion Phaneuf handles the puck surprisingly little in the D-zone for a player who's supposed to be a do-it-all blueliner.

• The above post was only made possible by the hard work of Corey Sznajder, who has embarked on an “All Three Zones Project” this summer. The Hurricanes blogger has been watching every single game from last year’s NHL season and tracking stats for how well each team moved throughout the three zones of play. This work owes a lot to the conclusions of Eric Tulsky (one of the three bloggers hired by NHL teams), who showed that a team’s ability to navigate the neutral zone was vital to puck possession. You can support Sznajder’s work (and buy access to his immense collection of data) here.

• So what’s next after tracking all three zones? Tracking battles along the boards?

• Copper & Blue’s Ryan Batty weighed in on what the Oilers’ hiring of an analytics guy says about the team and coach Dallas Eakins, while Eakins himself talked about the move on the radio.

• The often-hilarious Sean McIndoe explains how to know if you’ve hired the wrong advanced stats expert.

• The sometime-serious Sean McIndoe explains the logic of big star contracts.

• A budding stats guy in his own right? Alex Ovechkin (–35) doesn’t see the big deal with plus/minus ratings.

• Travis Hughes makes the geographic case for overhauling the NHL’s minor leagues.

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi was found guilty of harmful alteration of fish habitats in Canada. (via PHT)

Jordan Nolan’s day with the Cup was a chance for his dad to reunite with another trophy with which he has some history. 

• Adam Gretz today checks out another gone-but-not-forgotten hockey club: the Pittsburgh Pirates.

• And finally: Sidney Crosby dumps a bucket of ice on his head to raise awareness for ALS.

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