Tuesday July 12th, 2016

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Five things I think I think ...

Not sure I'm buying the buzz about David Krejci being dangled as trade bait by the Boston Bruins.

Sure, it makes sense on the surface. The B's appear to have a surfeit of right-handed center ice talent after signing unrestricted free agent David Backes earlier this month. They also have gaping holes on their blue line that need to be addressed. A reliable producer like Krejci (2.59 points/60 in 2015-16, tied for 30th) would draw plenty of attention from teams looking to juice their attack.

But there are two obvious problems. First, his contract. Krejci is entering the second season of a six-year, $43.5 million deal (average annual value of $7.25 million) in 2016-17 and carries a full no-movement clause through 2018-19. There aren't many teams out there that are willing or able to make that work.

Second, and this is just reading the tea leaves, the Bruins need to make the playoffs next season or there could be sweeping front office changes. There might be a deal out there that helps this team long term—the Hurricanes have a boatload of young blueline talent and a pressing need for a No. 1 center—but that wouldn't necessarily help Boston win now. And the clubs that could offer immediate help—say, St. Louis with Kevin Shattenkirk or Anaheim with Cam Fowler—don't seem to be good financial fits.

When the B's make a move to improve the blue line, as they almost certainly will, it's more likely to involve younger assets for immediate help.

TRACKERS: Free agents | Trades

• Speaking of the Hurricanes, that stockpile of young defense has them ideally situated to land the scoring help they desperately need this season. The trick is finding the right partner ... and deciding which of their current and future blueliners they might be willing to part with. It's unlikely that Justin Faulk would be available (though his name came up in discussions regarding Taylor Hall), and Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin are likely locked in as well. The organization won't want to move Jake Bean either, at least not until they have a better handle on what their 2016 first pick might become. But that leaves some promising talent up for grabs in the right scenario, including Haydn Fleury (seventh, 2014), Brett Pesce, Roland McKeown and Trevor Carrick.

The Canes haven't made the playoffs since 2009, and GM Ron Francis would love to end his personal three-year drought. That doesn't happen without improving an attack that generated just 2.39 goals per game last season (27th). This year's group will be better with the additions of Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho. Both are potential top-six options. And Elias Lindholm, the fifth pick in the 2013 draft, is poised for a breakthrough in his third NHL season ... if he amps up the effort to match his undeniable skill.

But Francis needs at least one sure thing up front if he wants to move this team into playoff contention. He'll make a move before the new campaign starts.

Las Vegas expansion team closing in on GM

• The more I ask around, the less likely it seems the Lightning will move Ben Bishop ahead of the season.

It all comes down to timing. For one, the market is lousy. There's only one team potentially looking for a No. 1, and that's the Dallas Stars and they are far from being motivated buyers at the moment. When you have a talent like Bishop, you don't move him when there's only one bidder. That's bad business.

More to the point though, the Bolts are in a position to contend for the Stanley Cup this year. Nothing they get for Bishop is going to enhance their ability to win the way having two quality netminders will.

Yes, they're almost certain to lose him for nothing at the end of the season. There's no way to fit the keeper and his expected salary demands of $6 million-plus under the cap without making other, more painful, cuts to the roster. But as GM Steve Yzerman demonstrated this past season with Steven Stamkos, he's willing to risk the future when the now is so promising. Barring a change in circumstances, expect Bishop to stay.

But at the same time, Dallas' window of Cup contention isn't closing any time soon.

• There might not have been a more telling moment this summer than when Montreal GM Marc Bergevin revealed his desire to mimic another team.

"It's the Chicago culture," he said. "That's what I want."

NHL
Contracts for top restricted free agents rising as NHL GMs dither

​Bergevin was responding to a question by NHL.com's Dave Stubbs about the appeal of newly acquired forward Andrew Shaw, and explained that the former Blackhawk hates losing. Which begs the question: Does Bergevin believe his Canadiens were complacent about their struggles last season? If so, why wasn't coach Michel Therrien held accountable?

And does Bergevin really believe that culture, not the presence of elite talent like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford, is what makes Chicago's organization so successful?

Yes, culture is important. There has to be a certain selflessness and focus that is installed by leadership and shared by the group in order to reach the ultimate goal. But culture is built on talent, not the other way around.

And looking to another organization for inspiration? That had to be a real punch in the gut to Montreal fans who remember it was their culture that was the envy of the league not that long ago.

• There's already criticism being hurled at Shane Doan after he signed a one-year extension with the Coyotes on Monday, but questions about his complacency and lack of competitive drive are wildly off-base.

Staying in Arizona wasn't the only choice open to Doan this summer, but it was more than just the path of least resistance for the 39-year-old winger. The new deal allows him and his family to stay in place, no small consideration, and keeps him with the only organization he's ever known for a 21st season. There aren't many guys in any sport who get that opportunity.

Re-upping with the Coyotes means the Cup probably isn't in the picture, but that's hardly the only measure of success. Doan's leadership will be critical to the development of prospects like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini and Christian Dvorak. And he continues to build a legacy that's intrinsically linked with the nurturing of hockey in the desert.

Doan's one of the best men in the game. If this is what he valued, then we should all be happy for him

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