Top Line: Unofficial start of free agency; Arizona Coyotes stay put; more links

Wednesday July 3rd, 2013

Goaltender Mike Smith signed a new six-year deal with the Arizona Coyotes The Coyotes aren't leaving Arizona and neither is goalie Mike Smith, who signed a new deal. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• The NHL's free agency period doesn't officially start until Friday, but because of an NBA-style signing moratorium that was implemented in the new CBA, the fun actually starts today.

Elliotte Friedman explores what this might mean in his weekly 30 Thoughts column.

• The Glendale city council approved a multi-million dollar deal that will keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix suburbs ... at least for the next five years. Actually, make that at most for the next five years. This franchise is on its last legs in Arizona, and the deal clears the way for the new owners to head out of town some time after the new arena is built in Seattle. Oh, and they're the Arizona Coyotes now. That helps, right?

• It's official: Mike Smith has a new deal with the Coyotes.

• No team will have three players count more against the cap than Pittsburgh after the Penguins agreed to a new eight-year deal with Kris Letang. Hope they don't mind a lot of Joe Vitale/Robert Bortuzzo types filling out the roster.

• Don't worry about the money, writes Frank Seravalli. Adding Vincent Lecavalier makes perfect sense for the Philadelphia Flyers.

• It seems like the every new deal starts a clock ticking until everyone finally agrees it was a lousy one. I'll put the over/under on this one at Year Three.

• There's one more forward who might be back in orange and black.

• The Dallas Stars made a big push for Lecavalier, but I guess they just weren't cute enough.

• He snubbed the Red Wings, too, which is OK by them because he was too slow, anyway. The Wings are still trying to lock up Danny Cleary and Damien Brunner.

• The Flyers still need a goalie. Tim Thomas is interested. So how do they make this work?

• You may not know his name, but you'd recognize the voice. Paul Lorieau, the Edmonton Oilers' anthem singer for 30 years, passed away on Tuesday. Our condolences to the family.

• If the league's general managers find the current UFA crop to be lacking, might one of them throw a massive offer sheet at Rangers RFA Ryan McDonough? I'm gonna say no ... but that's not stopping this guy from worrying.

• This is an amazing piece by Jo Innes explaining just how messed up Patrice Bergeron was while playing in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. If you didn't fully comprehend it before, it's pretty much official now. Bergy is either superhuman or clinically insane.

• Amazingly, he won't need surgery and will be ready in time for training camp.

Did success come too soon for Tyler Seguin? It's an interesting theory, and one that goes a long way toward explaining his lackluster season.

• Today's stat geek math project: determining which NHL team drafted players furthest from where they were expected to be picked.

• Some nice work here by The Goalie Guild: updated depth charts for every team, including all netminders drafted on Sunday.

• The Predators cleared space for top pick Seth Jones by waiving veteran Hall Gill. That leaves Nashville with five blueliners under the age of 23 for next season.

• Danny Briere says he is talking to eight teams, including Buffalo. At the right price, this would make a lot of sense for the Sabres, who aren't looking to add any big pieces at this point.

• The Sabres have added former Colorado head coach Joe Sacco as an assistant. Smart move by Sacco to rebuild his credibility after years of struggle in Denver.

• Last bit of Buffalo news: The team announced that 2012 first rounder Mikhail Grigorenko will spend the entire 2013-14 season in the NHL.

• Are goaltenders the Enron stock of the NHL? Or is that just what a Canucks fan tells himself to come to terms with the team trading away Cory Schneider for a handful of beans?

• What no-trade clause? The Vancouver Canucks are still shopping defenseman Alex Edler. If they want to be rid of him so badly, chances are he'll waive the clause. Who wants to stay where they're so obviously not wanted?

• Can the Maple Leafs convince top UFA David Clarkson to ditch the Devils?

Keaton Ellerby era is over in LA.
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