Top Line: Evaluating both sides of the Ryan Kesler trade; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Mark Spector says Vancouver fans should be thrilled to be rid of Ryan Kesler, no matter what they got in return. This scathing assessment of his character and diminishing abilities should make anyone feeling like the Canucks got the short end of the deal feel much better. Great take from this veteran scribe.
• Jason Botchford says Kesler got what he wanted in the deal. The Canucks? Not so much.
• Even with Kesler off the market, the Ottawa Senators found Jason Spezza to be a tough sell. Clearly, they wanted to have a deal done by last night -- one that would have included a first rounder in return -- but that's not the only way to cut ties with their captain. There's still plenty of time to make something happen before next season, but it sounds like the Ottawa front office needs to reassess its expectations of what he'll bring in return.
• Garth Snow dropped a bomb on live TV in defense of his second first-round pick, Josh Ho-Sang.
• There weren't many surprises, but there were plenty of fascinating storylines that unfolded over the course of Friday night's first round. Mike Johnston breaks out the fun facts.
• Someone's ox was going to be gored by the NHL's decision to change the draft lottery rules. Turns out it was the Buffalo Sabres.
• Mike Zeisberger lists Nashville and Anaheim as the big winners Friday night.
• In Ryan Kennedy's eyes, the theme of the night was that skill wins out.
• Jim Rutherford said a desire to change the mix of the team was behind his decision to trade James Neal to the Predators.
• In Nashville, the deal was hailed as proof the Preds are serious about becoming more offensive minded ... even if Neal comes with strings attached.
• Dejan Kovacevic makes the case that this deal might be exactly what both teams needed.
• Jim Matheson has the national view of the deal, and so that even in a league where goal scoring is coveted, no one should be surprised that the Pens cut ties with Neal.
• Pittsburgh might be looking at one of Toronto's free agents to help fill in for Neal.
• The Arizona Coyotes (still hard to type that) say behavioral problems, not cap issues were the behind the buyout of Mike Ribeiro's contract. Anyone who has been around the center won't be shocked to hear there were problems, but it is surprising to hear the Coyotes be so open about it. There's always someone who thinks they can squeeze something out of a talented player, but this could mark the end of Ribeiro's NHL career.
• No such drama behind San Jose's decision to buy out Martin Havlat. He was just lousy value for the money.
• At least one person actually believes Ondrej Pavelec can be a star. Fortunately for the beleaguered Winnipeg goalie it's his coach, Paul Maurice.