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THN.com Blog: Rounding the hockey bases in July

Mikhail Grabovski was picked up by the Leafs for a 2010 second round pick and prospect Greg Pateryn. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Mikhail Grabovski was picked up by the Leafs for a 2010 second round pick and prospect Greg Pateryn. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

A few NHL musings with upside no bigger than a paragraph…

• Hayley Wickenheiser is a female hockey player who’s good enough to play the sport professionally with men at a high level in Sweden. She’s also an Olympic gold medalist in hockey who participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a softball player. And she’s a pro athlete with enough personality and intelligence to serve as a color commentator for CBC’s Olympic coverage of softball this summer. This woman sprung from an incredible gene pool…

• As of right now, four of the five teams I’d peg as potential Cup winners in 2009 come from the West. Pittsburgh is the only Eastern team I’d lump in with Detroit, San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim as legit Cup contenders 11 months before the silver mug gets handed out…

• Year 2 on Broadway is going to be more productive for Chris Drury as the Rangers slowly, but surely, become his team…

• It’s a small move, but picking up Mikhail Grabovski for very little from Montreal could be a transaction that ends up being celebrated in Toronto. He’s way more silky than Selke, but a team desperate for talented forwards will take that tradeoff in a heartbeat. Grabovski, 24, will start the year on one of the Leafs’ top two lines…

• Jordan Staal is a great, emerging two-way player, but can you imagine if the Pens had drafted Steve Yzerman clone Jonathan Toews – not Staal – with the No. 2 pick in ’06? Scratch my back with a hacksaw…

• The Kings are a surprise goalie performance away from making the playoffs…

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• If Nashville makes the post-season again and Barry Trotz doesn’t win the Jack Adams, the trophy loses all credibility…

• Somebody could tell me they’ve got the Ottawa Senators slotted anywhere between one and 12 in their Eastern Conference predictions and I wouldn’t bat an eye. A team that used to be the model of regular season consistency is far and away the most unpredictable squad out there…

• One more year out of the post-season and Columbus and Florida each get relegated to the American League. I mean, seriously. Give the last two Calder Cup winners a crack…

• I was all set to chastise the NHL for wearing out a good thing by having an Outdoor Classic in consecutive years, but then they put it in one of sport’s most hallowed grounds in a city that’s beginning to rediscover its love for the sport. I don’t think Steve Bartman himself could ruin Hawks-Wings at Wrigley.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog normally appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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