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Top Line: Penguins look like major trade players; Sabres dysfunction; more links

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks Plum trade bait Ryan Kesler of the Canucks may be donning a Penguins sweater soon. (Bob Frid/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

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

• The Penguins always seem to be in the middle of things during the NHL's silly season, and they're expected to be active again this year. Beat reporter Rob Rossi identifies their top targets as Ryan Kesler, Marek Zidlicky and Ales Hemsky. I'd say there's a better than even-money chance that GM Ray Shero lands both Zidlicky and Hemsky.

• The Flyers are in the running for Kesler as well, but they're also interested in a much bigger deal with the Canucks. Now this could make things interesting ...

• The incompetent handling of Pat LaFontaine's departure/firing proves that the era of front-office bungling isn't over in Buffalo.

• All that turmoil leaves a pressing question to be answered: What does it all mean for the future of coach Ted Nolan? There are no guarantees for anyone with who wears the interim tag, but Nolan has done enough to prove that he's worthy of a permanent gig. If he is cut loose again, the Sabres can kiss whatever remaining crumbs of credibility that they have goodbye.

• Buffalo and Vanvouver are both franchises that began in turmoil. Forty years later, they've returned to a state of confusion ahead of the trade deadline.

Nicklas Jensen, the Canucks' 2009 first-round pick, has nine goals in his last 13 AHL games, so naturally he was the player called up to fill in for injured sniper Daniel Sedin, right? Nope, Vancouver tabbed grinder Darren Archibald for the promotion, proving once again that this organization self-sabotages almost as well as Buffalo.

• Rumors are circulating that the Oilers have made an offer for Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov. Not sure the Habs would move him with a playoff spot in their grasp, but given that they're not a serious Stanley Cup contender, it's a possibility.

• Mike Cammalleri has submitted a list of seven teams to which he will not accept a trade. That leaves interim Flames GM Brian Burke with 22 options, and one question to answer: How much will he be able to get for Cammalleri?

• Another day came and went without a new agreement between the Rangers and Ryan Callahan. There were, however, signs that New York's captain was softening on his position, suggesting that a deal might be possible.

Pekka Rinne is back!

• Justin Bourne writes that to beat the Blues in the playoffs, you'll have to score ... and good luck with that.

• First it was his Stadium Series mask that went missing. Now thieves have made off with Corey Crawford's favorite leg pads.

• The KHL's only Ukranian-based team, Donbass Donetsk, has provided guarantees that it is safe to play in its country during this period of civil unrest, and says that it hopes the league will allow it to host games during the playoffs. I'm not sure how a team can provide a guarantee like that -- a visit to Ukraine seems like an unreasonable risk to take at this point.

• A report out of Russia suggests that Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Yeti of Washington, will report to the Capitals after his final KHL game today.

• Gary Bettman wouldn't discuss a potential outdoor game in Minnesota, but he was happy to talk about expansion, the Olympics and having an openly gay player in the NHL when he met with the media before the Wild-Flames game last night.

• An embarrassing story out of Canada's capital where the entire University of Ottawa hockey team and its coaching staff have been suspended in the wake of rape allegations. Tough break for the players who were not involved, but if the accusations are true, it could take a big disciplinary statement to change a significant problem in campus culture.

• Ten years ago, Glen Sather managed to do something no other general manager of the modern era has equaled ... or ever will.

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