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Top Line: Kris Letang's illness a season-ender?; Ryan Miller not worth it; more

Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh PenguinsPenguins blueliner Kris Letang is the latest NHL player to succumb to a mysterious illness. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• A mysterious illness has kept the Penguins' Kris Letang on the bench since Jan. 30. Now sources are saying it could put him on the sidelines for the rest of the season ... and possibly end his career. The team hopes to have more details today.

• Neil Greenberg says the numbers prove that Ryan Miller isn't worth the price it would cost the Capitals to acquire him. Greenberg's math is a little sketchy, as he neglects to factor in the change in quality and quantity of chances that Miller would face playing behind Washington's defense. There's also an unquantifiable confidence boost that sometimes comes with a significant deadline acquisition. Getting Miller wouldn't be strictly about the numbers for the Caps.

• The Islanders have pulled the plug on Lubomir Visnovsky's Olympic dream, refusing to grant the recently-concussed defenseman permission to play in Sochi. As with the Blue Jackets' Marian Gaborik, this can't come as a huge surprise to Slovakia, but it's a significant loss nonetheless. Visnovsky, if healthy, is a top-four defender and would have played heavy minutes at the Olympics.

• Adam Proteau suggests that Canadian fans might want to dial down their cockiness ahead of the Sochi tournament.

• Chris Johnston says that Martin St. Louis is the feel-good story of the Canadian Olympic team. No doubt his presence will be valuable in the room and on the ice, no matter where he slots in the lineup.

Henrik Sedin made it official last night, withdrawing from Olympic competition. Swedish radio is reporting that Washington's Marcus Johansson will replace him in Sochi. That's a fairly significant drop in talent there.

• Jerry Sullivan offers a great profile of hockey-mad Latvia and the challenges that its coach, Ted Nolan, must face.

Max Pacioretty made NHL history by earning two penalty shots in the same period last night against the Canucks. He still can't believe what he did with one of those chances.

• Here's a nice piece from Dave Stubbs on Canadiens goalie Carey Price making a youngster's day. You just know that Price has a fan for life after this, right?

• The rumor mill says that Sam Gagner will be the centerpiece of a deal between the Oilers and the Kings. Sounds like it could involve elements that both teams desperately need.

• The Blackhawks picked up a pair of veteran forwards from the Islanders to shore up their depth ahead of the playoffs. Neither player is a difference maker, but you can't beat the price.

• To make room on the roster, Chicago demoted Brandon Pirri to the AHL. Pirri, the AHL's scoring champ last season, is thought to be on the trade block. He might be a worthwhile pickup for a rebuilding squad that's willing to take a chance for some offensive pizazz.

Andrew MacDonald could be the next player sent packing by the Islanders after he rejected a four-year, $16 million deal. Hey, I like MacDonald, and I think he can be a very useful player in the right situation, but when a guy like that turns down that kind of money? That either says that he's getting some crazy feedback on what he's worth as a UFA this summer, or that he has no interest in playing for New York in the future.

• Let's just go ahead and make it a Blues vs. Bruins Stanley Cup finals. It's for the best.

Alex Ovechkin became the first 40-goal scorer of the season in last night's win over the Jets. Wait ...Winnipeg can lose?

• Should Dustin Brown be suspended for this hit on Ryan Murray? My gut says no, but it's definitely a tricky read for Brendan Shanahan and his crew.

• Was this player the best free agent signing of the summer?

• Coach Kevin Dineen used his credit card to give the Canadian women's team a boost in the days before Sochi. Don't worry. They spent wisely.

• Veteran reporter Helene Elliott reflects on how covering the Olympics has changed since her first assignment, covering the "Miracle On Ice" back in 1980.

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