By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Ken Campbell has surveyed the landscape and says the NHL is ready to expand to 32 teams. Now.
• Nothing better than walking into contract negotiations right after winning the Stanley Cup, eh? That's doing it like a boss. Still, sounds like both sides were happy after the Blackhawks inked coach Joel Quenneville to a new three-year deal.
• Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff worked late into the night to finally secure a new deal for top winger Blake Wheeler Hard to believe it took so long though when you look at the numbers: six years and $33.6 million. That's an AAV of $5.6 million, more than doubling his old paycheck. Zach Bogosian, the last remaining Jet without a deal, has to be smiling after seeing that contract.
• The stick used by Wayne Gretzky to score his 1,000th goal--as a youth hockey player, that is--is up for auction. You won't believe what they think it'll go for.
• Tim Leiweke was surprised by the negative reaction to news that he'd extended the tenure of Toronto GM Dave Nonis with a five-year deal. Seems like Leiweke is surprised by the reaction to pretty much everything he says. He's not quite grasping the Toronto market yet, is he?
• Speaking of surprise, there was a lot of it expressed yesterday after news broke that former Sabre Nathan Gerbe had signed a two-way deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Many viewed it as a sign of a tough market. I'm thinking it's more an accurate reflection of the demand for a player who is a great story, but no guarantee to be a real contributor at the NHL level.
• I love a good list, and Yahoo offers up a doozy: a ranking of the NHL's top 30 goalies. Couple of crazy calls? You bet!
• A report out of Sweden has Vancouver defender Alex Edler meeting with the IIHF about the suspension he received after a knee-on-knee hit against Canada's Eric Staal at the World Championships. If he loses his bid to have his sentence reduced, he's likely out for the Olympics.
• Tom Gulitti says Lou Lamoriello has done his best to fill the holes in New Jersey's roster but his choices have compromised the team's speed. It's a great point. If speed doesn't kill, then the lack of it sure does, and the Devils look like a team that will have to slow the game down if they want to compete. Should make for some exciting hockey at The Rock.
• David Staples argues that keeping a young core intact is worth the risk of a player washing out while under a long-term deal. That means the sooner the Oilers get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz signed to extensions, the better.
• So, Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 21-year-old who happens to be Washington's top prospect is already making plans to head back to Russia like Ilya Kovalchuk...before he even gets to the NHL. Yeah, this is a kid you want to go into battle with.Canada just beat the U.S. to win another hockey gold medal.