Top Line: Kovalchuk fallout; Whitey Bulger, Bruins fan; more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Tom Politi of NJ.com says Ilya Kovalchuk's retirement is a disaster for Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello.
• Ken Campbell thinks this is all a little too convenient for both Kovy and the Devils, basically calling this the greatest act of cap circumvention in history.
• Here's a less cynical view of that same win-win scenario.
• One agent says Kovalchuk's decision sets Russian players back 50 years.
• Now that he's bolted for Russia, the big question is: who's joining him?
• Larry Brooks says that the dogged pursuit of a deal with Kovalchuk did not pave the road to Minnesota for Zach Parise, contrary to the popular belief.
• Stroll through Kovalchuk's timeline in New Jersey and the seeds of his discontent are all neatly laid out.
• Turns out that Whitey Bulger, the organized crime figure currently on trial in Boston for his alleged role in multiple murders, traveled to Vancouver to watch the B's win the Stanley Cup in 2011. Guessing that Ken "the Rat" Linseman was not one of the lifelong Bruins fan's favorite players.
• At least one member of the Philadelphia Flyers thinks the departure of Ilya Bryzgalov will be a good thing for the team. Not surprised that's the sentiment, but it's unusual to hear someone come out and take a shot at a departed teammate like that.
• A groin injury prevented Sven Baertschi from playing on the silver medal-winning Swiss side at the World Championships. While his first order of business is making the Calgary Flames this fall, he has one eye on a role with his country's Olympic team.
• Skating is the primary focus for top pick Frederik Gauthier as he debuts at Toronto's development camp.
• Jonathan Drouin gave every impression that he's ready to jump directly into the Lightning's line-up with a strong performance at the team's development camp.
• Despite the new faces on the back end, Edmonton's defense still lacks top-end presence. As long as players are put into roles that demand more than their skill level can handle, the blue line will be a problem for the Oilers.
• Terry Jones isn't a fan of the David Perron trade. He makes a pretty solid case that GM Craig MacTavish swung at the wrong pitch.
• The Western Michigan Broncos are the big losers after Montreal signed top pick Michael McCarron and assigned him to the OHL's London Knights. Glad to see a high-end youngster in the O ... but do these guys always have to end up with London?
• Minnesota is about to take advantage of Nashville's blueline logjam by signing free agent Jonathan Blum. The kid has never quite put it all together despite having great tools. A fresh start might be just what he needs. • A 17-year-old minor hockey player made his first appearance in court after being charged with multiple offenses stemming from an on-ice fight back in January.