Top Line: Underrated free agents; Sidney Crosby surgery; more
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Ray Emery and Clayton Stoner top a list of five potentially underrated NHL free-agent signings. Really.
• The Sharks gave depth forwards James Sheppard and Tommy Wingels new deals, leaving only Jason Demers to sign on the dotted line. Sheppard made himself into a valuable player last season, finally putting all the pieces together after years of leaving the Wild wanting more. Surprising that his deal is only for one year.
• Sidney Crosby is scheduled to have wrist surgery in the next few days to repair a problem that hampered his effectiveness throughout the playoffs. I'm sure the anti-Sid crowd will have a field day, but keep this in mind: Crosby never once used this as an excuse for his performance. Guys play hurt all the time in the postseason and he handled things the right way by keeping the condition to himself and fighting through it the best he could.
• Is former college star Connor Hellebuyck the answer to the Jets' prayers for help between the pipes? Experience may be the only element missing in his game right now.
• Jamie Kompon is leaving his gig as an assistant to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to become the coach of the WHL's Portland Winterhawks. That's the job that was vacated by Mike Johnston when he took over as head coach of the Penguins. If Kompon can maintain Johnston's level of success in Portland, he might finally land an NHL job, which he's coveted for years.
• You think Erik Karlsson is a good offensive player? Think again. Tyler Dellow uses some neat charts to suggest that points don't equate to offense. It gave me a tired head, but you might dig it.
• There aren't many third-round picks who garner the kind of attention that has been focused on Capitals prospect Nathan Walker, but then again there's never been anyone quite like him in the NHL.
• Is Washington's 2013 first-rounder ready for a spot on the club's roster next season? Andre Burakovsky's junior coach thinks so.
• Former Chicago center Pierre-Marc Bouchard has signed with EV Zug of the Swiss league, but he's left himself an out in case another NHL team is willing to give him a chance. To paraphrase the great Harry Sinden, he can go ahead and start learning how to yodel.
• The Predators may need another center with Mike Fisher sidelined indefinitely, but that doesn't mean it has to be Vincent Lecavalier. Nashville might want to focus its contingency plans on this guy instead.
• Canada’s largest private-sector union is rekindling efforts to organize 1,300 hockey players in the country’s three major junior leagues. And from the get-go the move sounds as seedy as the scandal-plagued CHLPA that went off the rails two years ago.
• Back in the day, all the other owners hated the guy who ran the Toronto Blueshirts, so they shut down the Blueshirts' league and started the NHL instead. Another entertaining piece of hockey history from Joe Pelletier.
• Brock Otten breaks down the European prospects selected by OHL teams in last week's CHL Import Draft. Some good stuff here on Maple Leafs first-rounder William Nylander and Bruins hopeful David Pastrnak.