Top Line: Sidney Crosby on a mission; Ovi's sexy face; more links
An annotated guide to today's must-read hockey stories:
• Sidney Crosby enters the new season as a man on a mission, in the best health of his career and with a revamped supporting cast. Can he bring something other than individual awards back to Pittsburgh next June?
• And here's Ovi making a sexy face for what appears to be a music video with Russian singer Katya Lel. If my translation of this article is correct, the two were briefly an item back in 2008, but their, um, “purity” drove them apart.
• Is this the year that Scott Laughton finally sticks with the Flyers? Philly's top prospect will get his third crack at making the big club at the team's rookie camp, which gets underway this weekend.
• John Vogl ponders five questions that the Sabres face as camp approaches. Number one on his list: the fate of top pick Sam Reinhart.
• After winning two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup, and being part of Canada's world junior team, Senators prospect Curtis Lazar may have accomplished everything he can at the junior level. Now he has to prove that he's ready for the NHL.
• Ryane Clowe says that he's feeling pretty good after recovering from his latest concussion, but the burly winger still needs medical clearance before he's allowed to join the Devils at training camp.
• Are there spots available for veterans Scott Gomez and Martin Havlat in New Jersey this season? Rich Chere scans the roster and notes players who are locks and those who are on the bubble.
• Goaltender Nikolai Khudobin wants to wrest the No. 1 job in Carolina away from Cam Ward, but he's being really cool about it. The battle between Khudobin and Ward will be one of the more interesting stories from training camp, but only because of Ward's legacy. Based on the trajectory of their games, this is Khudobin's gig to lose.
• The Wild have finally come to terms on a new deal with RFA winger Nino Niederreiter. The former first-round pick oozes potential, but his inability to play well consistently has always held him back. You have to wonder whether the security of his three-year deal will motivate him, or at least remove some of the pressure.
• Heika also offers an update on Rich Peverley.
• It's tough to get excited about the Canucks' rookie tournament team with three of the organization's top prospects sitting at home.
• Pat Hickey identifies the two players at the Canadiens' rookie camp who have a shot at starting the season in Montreal. Spoiler: they're both European.
• It's the 40th anniversary of the Canada-Russia series that everyone forgets. Lance Hornsby looks back at the 1974 clash between the stars of the World Hockey Association and the Soviet Union.