Rich Graessle/Icon SMI
By Allan Muir
September 16, 2014

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

Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen needs a reality check; more notes

Things are about to get really ugly between the Blue Jackets and unsigned center Ryan Johansen. According to this report, Jarmo Kekalainen is threatening to end contract talks with Johansen’s agent if the center is still unsigned when training camp opens on Thursday. It's a bold stand for that Columbus GM to risk alienating his franchise player, and one that could cause Johansen's camp to dig its heels in even deeper.

 Yeah, it was just a rookie camp game, but that two-goal/overtime clinching performance against the Oilers has everyone in Winnipeg buzzing about first rounder Nikolaj Ehlers. Kid can really fire the biscuit.

 Seeing is believing. Here are Ehler's highlights from Monday night's action.

 Check out this brutal knee-on-knee hit from the same contest. If that happens during the regular season, that's probably going to mean a five-game suspension for Edmonton's Darnell Nurse.

Ex-NFLer Chad Johnson wants to play for the Canadiens, fight Bruins pair

• Chad Johnson—the football player, not the backup goalie—wants to play for the Canadiens. Why? So he can fight Lucic and Zdeno Chara. We'll send our condolences to his family if this happens.

 A summer spent rehabbing after wrist surgery could lead to a slow start by Milan Lucic. For a Bruins team already short one top-six winger, this could be a tough hurdle.

 Here's Brad Marchand having a little fun with vertically challenged teammate Torey Krug.

Canadiens dodge captain controversy, name four assistants

• So what if the Canadiens chose not to name a captain this season? Cam Cole says the importance of the C is grossly overestimated.

There are plenty of storylines to ponder as the Maple Leafs head to camp, but they all circle back to the performance of Randy Carlyle. No coach enters the season with a shorter leash around his neck than Toronto's bench boss.

 The Maple Leafs face a tough choice in deciding what to do with first rounder William Nylander this season. James Mirtle weighs the implications of each option.

Smart move by all as NHL joins EPIX for all-access Winter Classic series

Bobby Ryan says he wants to see how he's used in the lineup before he signs an extension with the Ottawa Senators. Is this really a play for a more prominent role with the club, or simply the first step on his road out of town?

John Tavares lost half a season to an injury suffered in Sochi, but the Islanders captain says he'll be first in line to play if NHLers return to the Olympics in 2018.

San Jose faces an extended period of playing without James Sheppard because the veteran center is continuing to recover from offseason knee surgery.

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston says he doesn't have much interest in his team's goaltending prospects.

The Edmonton Oilers still don't have a second-line center, but Leon Draisaitl is showing signs that he's up for the task.

Semyon Varlamov joins Russian NHL stars backing Vladimir Putin

American-born defender Deron Quint was spotted wearing the same Vladimir Putin shirt that got Semyon Varlamov into hot water. Surely he was being ironic, right?

Remember the “make-whole” clause that expedited a resolution to the lockout that delayed the start of the 2012-13 season? The NHLPA has finally agreed on how much money that actually means for each player. Not a bad chunk of change here.

Here's a look at Pekka Rinne's new mask. Not bad, eh?

 Former Los Angeles Kings first rounder Alexander Frolov has called it a career at 32.

A court decision in Ontario is being hailed as a major victory for LGBT hockey players.

 Leaving home to play hockey isn't the right choice for every player. Ryan Donato valued a year spent playing with his high school friends over moving up a level to the USHL. Great lesson here for parents and players who are pursuing the dream.

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