The Top 5 Stories That Will Carry Over Into Next Season

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    There is a lot going on  around the league these days.    Rumours about Kaberle and potential deals abound, a Kessel signing is no longer imminent, Heatley is still a Senator, and the NHL remains hot over the Hossa contract.  Oh, and did I mention the league still has a bounty on the head of Jim Balsillie?

    All of these stories have been playing out for months now, and none appear headed toward a resolution prior to the start of the new season.    It is safe to assume that despite the vast quantity of reporting devoted to these stories throughout the offseason, each will continue to dominate the headlines on days where the box scores do not.

    Kaberle

    We’ve covered his situation a lot the past few days, so without rehashing much I will just jump straight to the latest news, which is that the on-again/off-again interest expressed by Columbus may indeed be off once more.   Contrary to some reports, the Leafs did have interest in Jakub Voracek … but did not have any interest in the deal Columbus wanted to pursue, which I was told amounted to Kaberle for Voracek straight-up.

    If any deal is made it will be made with a team the Leafs have already been talking to for a while, where the basis of a deal has already been discussed and it is just a matter of the other team willing to pay the price that has been set.   In such a scenario, a deal can come together rather quickly.   But, will that scenario arise?   And will Burke feel that such a trade would make his club better than it would be if he kept Kaberle?   I suppose we will find out Saturday.    

    Either way, this story will continue through the season either in the form of ongoing trade speculation (as it has all offseason), or in the form of the return for Kaberle being scrutinized and evaluated on a game-by-game basis.   Buckle up, either situation is bound to provide for plenty of chatter throughout the season.

    Kessel

    Phil Kessel is recovering from shoulder surgery, and won’t be able to play until December at the earliest.  While there isn’t a whole lot of pressure on the Bruins to sign him anytime soon, they will need to sign him by December 1st if he is to play this season.    But who do they move in order to free up the cap space?   The consensus is that Savard is staying put, as is Ryder; with Krecji’s emergence, Bergeron seems the most likely candidate but to date there has been no interest given his concussion history.    There is a growing belief that the Bruins would have to take a contract back in order to move  Bergeron, which doesn’t help them in terms of finding cap space to sign Kessel.    

    The silver lining in all this is the Bruins can wait a bit to see how the season progresses; perhaps a player such as Bergeron plays well enough to convince another team to take a chance on him, or perhaps somebody goes on LTIR, which would also free up the necessary space.    Either way, this story doesn’t appear to be nearing a resolution, or going away, anytime soon.

    Heatley

    Well, they say if you make your bed you lie in it.    Which is exactly what is happening with Heatley.   The Sharks are the only team that has showed any interest at all, but any deal they are to make is contingent on Marleau waiving his NTC … and so far a team he might be willing to waive for has not stepped up to take that contract off San Jose’s hands.    Barring a deal in which Ottawa is willing to take the equivalent amount of  salary back (and by all accounts Bryan Murray is loathe to do that unless the deal provides him with secondary scoring), it is looking more and more as though Heatley will be back with the Senators.    You can expect the Sens’ locker room to be the subject of much analysis, and the source of many jokes, for as long as Heatley remains on the team.

    Hossa

    Was the contract planned to allow for early retirement?   Is that, in and of itself, a clear violation of CBA rules?  Why investigate the Blackhawks for signing a guy until he is 41, and not the Red Wings for signing guys until they are 40?   

    None of those questions have been answered, and the answers are not likely forthcoming anytime soon.  Some are beginning to wonder if the NHL just got sick of all of the long-term deals and is making an example of Chicago.  Some are wondering if it’s payback for the way Tallon was stripped of his duties.   And some remain convinced that there must be a rational and logical reason for the league’s interest in this particular deal, which doesn’t look that dissimilar from any of the other decade-long contracts handed out to NHL veterans over the past few years.

    It is difficult to determine whether a resolution will come in the next month and a half before the season begins.   Either the NHL brass will void the contract, allow it but fine the Blackhawks heavily, or determine there is nothing they can do about it and walk away with egg on their faces.    Expect this story (or its fallout) to carry into next season; things will get very interesting if the contract is voided, or if the Hawks are stripped of draft picks as a result of the signing.

    Balsillie

    Hockey in Phoenix for another season — at the NHL’s expense — is pretty much a guarantee at this point.   Even if Balsillie wins the auction, and is awarded the team, the NHL will exhaust all its legal options before recognizing him as an owner.   If you aren’t already versed in bankruptcy laws and the NHL constitution by now, you will be by the New Year, if Balsillie does indeed get the team.    And if he doesn’t, the speculation surrounding when/where the team will move will continue.    In that circumstance, expect to hear the Las Vegas and Kansas City talk ramp up once again.   No matter what happens, this story certainly isn’t going away anytime soon.

    What do you think will happen with these stories?   And are there others that, despite the hefty amount of print contributed to them thus far, you expect to continue to dominate the headlines throughout the upcoming season?   Finally, is there a story out there, or something happening in the league, that you think hasn’t received enough coverage?

    Looking forward to your thoughts as always.

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