Wednesday September 10th, 2014

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

• Alex Ovechkin says it sucks that his name isn't on the Stanley Cup. His ability to address that omission could depend on his relationship with new coach Barry Trotz, a storyline that should be one of the NHL's most closely watched next season.

NHL
Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen needs a reality check; more notes

• It's been six weeks since Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets have engaged in any meaningful contract talks. That could change this weekend. No word on which side made the first move, but Johansen is the one with the most to lose here. It could be that he's ready to dial back his demands a little with camp fast approaching.

• Zdeno Chara's fingers have healed after being broken during last year's playoff series against the Canadiens. Interesting that he kept the injury news to himself this long. Have to admire a man who refuses to use pain as an excuse.

• Hockey players don't have to skate in the NHL to prove they're tough. Here's the gory proof.

• During stops on the NHL's annual media tour, Islanders captain John Tavares talked about his health and his expectations for returning to the playoffs. Seems like he's bullish about both.

NHL
A few intriguing players remain at the bottom of the free agent barrel

• Martin Brodeur's agent isn't putting a timeline on his client's attempts to catch on with another team this fall. Pat Brisson says that the goaltender is ready to play, and is also content to wait for any opportunities that might arise after camps open.

• Mark Messier is returning to the Oilers. Moose will join the front office in an advisory role that he explains in this piece.

• Sounds like Messier will be the only old-timer who earns a trip to Edmonton this month. Reports suggest that the Oilers won't offer PTOs to any veteran free agents, despite some obvious holes at center and on their blue line. Nice to see that the team has faith in its kids, but a little competition in camp might not have been the worst thing.

• How many points will your favorite team finish with next season? Here's how one oddsmaker sees the year playing out.

NHL
NHL's reported Toronto expansion fee would set record

• What do you mean FiveThirtyEight.com is wrong about NHL expansion? They used statistics! Numbers never lie, right?

• Motivated by the sting of being cut by the Lightning last season, Jonathan Drouin has put in the work to ensure that he's ready to make the jump to the NHL this time around.

• Did a breakdown in communications force Anton Stralman to pick Tampa Bay over the Rangers in free agency?

Flames center Sean Monahan got big over the summer. Really big. That's some serious dedication to preparation right there.

• Chris Phillips says he's ready to take on the challenge of becoming the next captain of the Senators. No doubt he's up to the task, but will the team give the C to a player whose career lifespan might not extend beyond this upcoming season?

• There's no shortage of leaders in Montreal despite the departure of several key veterans over the summer. Which one of the remaining vets will assume the C that once belonged to the now departed by Brian Gionta?

• If you're a woman looking for a job in hockey, you might want to contact the Avalanche. I'm thinking that after everyone gets a look at these charts and graphs tracking female employment around the NHL, Colorado might be in a hurry to hire a few ladies.

• Makes sense to follow that note up with this amazing video of what may have been the first-ever women's hockey team. A must-watch.

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