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Top Line: NHL expansion talk; Chicago extends Joel Quenneville; more links

Joel Quenneville Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville got a three-year extension on the heels of a Stanley Cup victory. (Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

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

Ken Campbell has surveyed the landscape and says the NHL is ready to expand to 32 teams. Now.

• Nothing better than walking into contract negotiations right after winning the Stanley Cup, eh? That's doing it like a boss. Still, sounds like both sides were happy after the Blackhawks inked coach Joel Quenneville to a new three-year deal.

• Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff worked late into the night to finally secure a new deal for top winger Blake Wheeler Hard to believe it took so long though when you look at the numbers: six years and $33.6 million. That's an AAV of $5.6 million, more than doubling his old paycheck. Zach Bogosian, the last remaining Jet without a deal, has to be smiling after seeing that contract.

Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky headline the roster of Canada's all-time Olympic team as selected by the Canadian Olympic committee. Not a bad apple in the bunch.

• The stick used by Wayne Gretzky to score his 1,000th goal--as a youth hockey player, that is--is up for auction. You won't believe what they think it'll go for.

• Tim Leiweke was surprised by the negative reaction to news that he'd extended the tenure of Toronto GM Dave Nonis with a five-year deal. Seems like Leiweke is surprised by the reaction to pretty much everything he says. He's not quite grasping the Toronto market yet, is he?

• Speaking of surprise, there was a lot of it expressed yesterday after news broke that former Sabre Nathan Gerbe had signed a two-way deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Many viewed it as a sign of a tough market. I'm thinking it's more an accurate reflection of the demand for a player who is a great story, but no guarantee to be a real contributor at the NHL level.

• I love a good list, and Yahoo offers up a doozy: a ranking of the NHL's top 30 goalies. Couple of crazy calls? You bet!

Adrian Dater spins some gold as he watches an old Avalanche game. This is a good bit. Why aren't more of us doing this?

• A report out of Sweden has Vancouver defender Alex Edler meeting with the IIHF about the suspension he received after a knee-on-knee hit against Canada's Eric Staal at the World Championships. If he loses his bid to have his sentence reduced, he's likely out for the Olympics.

Tom Gulitti says Lou Lamoriello has done his best to fill the holes in New Jersey's roster but his choices have compromised the team's speed. It's a great point. If speed doesn't kill, then the lack of it sure does, and the Devils look like a team that will have to slow the game down if they want to compete. Should make for some exciting hockey at The Rock.

David Staples argues that keeping a young core intact is worth the risk of a player washing out while under a long-term deal. That means the sooner the Oilers get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz signed to extensions, the better.

Jonathan Willis breaks out the fancy stats to discuss the merits of acquiring defender Cody Fransson, the RFA who reportedly is being shopped by the Maple Leafs.

• People thought Shawn Horcoff would be impossible to move because of his contract and production, but the Oilers found a buyer in Dallas. But what if Ales Hemsky actually is untradeable?

• Brian Bickell explains a kinda gross injury to Chris Kuc, who also has updates on the health of Chicago forwards Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus.

• The Ducks extended 2009 first rounder, and Olympic camp invitee Kyle Palmieri with a new deal last night. Seems like a decent contract for a kid who still has a lot to prove in this league.

• So, Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 21-year-old who happens to be Washington's top prospect is already making plans to head back to Russia like Ilya Kovalchuk...before he even gets to the NHL. Yeah, this is a kid you want to go into battle with.

Canada just beat the U.S. to win another hockey gold medal. In July. In the desert.
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