By Brian Stubits
DOUGH FOR DOUGHNUTS: The most talked about RFA has been Steven Stamkos and it isn't close. But there's a certain young star defenseman in L.A. who is currently without a contract and is restricted, too. From the sounds of it, that won't be changing for some time. Kings GM Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times that "this could take awhile" in regards to the negotiations to re-sign Drew Doughty. Now, it is unlikely -- winning the lottery unlikely -- Doughty will play anywhere but Tinseltown in the foreseeable future, but nobody likes these negotiations to drag on. The talks could get a serious spur when Shea Weber gets his new contract in Nashville.
THE L WORD: The last thing anybody in sports wants to hear, especially in hockey, is talk about another lockout. With the NFL and NBA currently in labor battles (although they haven't cost either league a game or anything truly substantial yet) the NHL is OK for next season. But after that, the CBA runs out, and we could have a whole new set of issues up for contention. Lyle Richardson at Spector's Hockey says the fight this time wouldn't be about leveling the playing field, but about saving the playing field (i.e. poorly managed/endangered franchises), something the other owners might not be willing to do.
AHL SHAKEUP: Not only did we see a carousel on the AHL affiliation circus this offseason with numerous teams taking on a new minor-league city, but the AHL announced it will have a new look to it, too. A realignment of divisions was released yesterday as well as a new playoff format. It will look very similar to the NHL's version, just with a first round being a best-of-5 series instead of seven. Check out the layout here.
RISKY BUSINESS: Martin Havlat, Brent Burns, Michal Handzus, Jim Vandermeer. That's who the Sharks have brought in while losing some of the bigger parts of their back-to-back Western Conference runnerups. Typically teams don't make such drastic changes after being so close. Although this team has been together with the same core for some time, and that's the most they have to show for it. But I digress. Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says there is no denying GM Doug Wilson is undertaking one massive risk with all these moves.
BURKE BURN PART II: Yesterday we pointed out how Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was angry with criticism he received from a Toronto Sun columnist for spending Canada Day -- which is also the opening of free agency -- in Afghanistan visiting the troops. Now, a fellow writer at the Sun is coming to his co-worker Steve Simmons' defense after a slew of negative responses, pointing out, rightfully, it was just the man's opinion.
ANTTI-NHL: OK, so he might not have anything against the NHL, but his name works so well! Former Minnesota Wild forward Antti Miettinen is apparently not coming back to North America next season, instead signing a contract with a team in the KHL, according to Andy Strickland.He was one of the better free agents still left, having scored 16 goals and 35 points last season (20-22=42 the season before).