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Top Line: NHL headed for big change; teams under pressure; more links

With a new coach and general manager, the Penguins and Sidney Crosby will be under immense pressure to succeed after consecutive underwhelming years. Photo:

With a new coach and general manager, the Penguins and Sidney Crosby will be under immense pressure to succeed after consecutive underwhelming years.

An annotated guide to this morning’s must read stories.

• Summer is quickly passing, but Adam Proteau says these five teams that play in the NHL's most pressurized markets will still be sweating when the 2014-15 season gets underway in two months.

• Speaking of pressure, the Blackhawks may be poised for another run at the Stanley Cup, but they still need to trim more than $2 million to get under the salary cap. There's no shortage of speculation about who will have to go.

• If it’s high summer, there must be Shea Weber trade speculation in the air.

• Fluto Shinzawa says the NHL is on the brink of a massive intelligence shift, thanks to the growing acceptance of analytic stats, that will dramatically alter the game. What you see now will be a gauzy memory five years from now.

• Jonathan Willis takes an advanced analytical look at the prime age of production by NHL players and more.

• Since this appears to be the NHL’s Summer of Love with regard to analytics, why not meet the obscure goalie who started it all? Kevin McGran offers an interesting profile of the man.

•  Much was made about all the greenbacks that were flying at the start of free agency season on July 1, but for every fat contract that was awarded to stars like P.K. Subban or even marginal players like Deryk Engelland, there were several aging veterans—like Brad Richards and Dany Heatley, fer instance—who took a hefty trim to hang on for one more season. Take a look at THN's All-Squeeze Team.

•  After a season of rag water, bitterness and blue ruin, the Canucks may just be poised for a rebirth. At least Ryan Kennedy seems to think so. Here's why.

•  So are the often downtrodden Islanders who, according to Helene St. James, have retooled and are now ready to return to the playoffs. Hey, it's a possibility in the muddled and mostly underwhelming Metro Division.

•  After presiding over years of futility with the Atlanta Thrashers, former GM Don Waddell has washed up with in Carolina with the Hurricanes, who have entrusted him with their piggy bank.

•  Hard to believe it's been 30 years since the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup. The crew from that squad is planning to celebrate the anniversary with all the proper solemnity at a game in Edmonton next season.

•  And with the NHL poised on the brink of a massive sea change, the great hockey historian Joe Pelletier takes a look back to a simpler time when the Rocket was King.

 

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