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Top Line: Will Vegas roll dice on NHL?; why Milano defected; more links

The NHL has graced Las Vegas with its annual awards gala, but a franchise could be on the way after the city's 20,000-seat arena is completed in 2016. Photo:

The NHL has graced Las Vegas with its annual awards gala, but a franchise could be on the way after the city's 20,000-seat arena is completed in 2016.

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

• Las Vegas is ready for it's own major pro sports franchise, but the NHL might not be its first, or best, choice. Here's a look at the opportunities and roadblocks the city faces as it tries to enter the big leagues. Don't read too much into that vintage Gary Bettman quote, though. He would never tip his hand before a deal was in place.

• Mark Divver, who has been all over the Kevin Hayes story, says we could see a decision by the free-agent winger some time today.

• The Sonny Milano story took an interesting turn yesterday with the release of this statement from him. It turns out that his decision to pass on Boston College was not precipitated by a deal with the Blue Jackets but a preference to play for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers. It's interesting because BC has been portraying this as a choice of turning pro over school, when it's actually about choosing junior hockey over college as the best path to the NHL.

• The NHL and the Buffalo Sabres have called a press conference for this afternoon. Here's why.

• Here's an interesting piece from Amalie Benjamin about a coach who misjudged a skinny kid named Milan Lucic and how that experience changed the way the coach views prospects.

• Toronto's decision to jump onto the advanced stats bandwagon is at the center of NHL.com's 30-in-30 package on the Maple Leafs. But can a new set of numbers, and new ways of looking at them, really transform the Buds from being one of the league's worst possession teams into something better?

• The departure of Brian Gionta leaves the Canadiens in need of someone to wear the C. Jack Todd knows exactly who it should be.

• Mike Cammalleri chose to sign with the Devils as a free agent for the next best reason after the huge stacks of cash.

• Could reluctant Russian Alex Burmistrov have his eyes on a return to the Winnipeg Jets? Maybe ... but not as quickly as they'd like.

• Was this the longest street hockey game in history? It's up to the folks at Guinness to decide.

• Check out that five hole ... oh, dang it.

• That wasn't the first time a goalie has tried that bit of visual subterfuge.

 

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