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From the Branches: Qualifying offers expire today!

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Gotta catch 'em all!

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Katyaknappe [7:20 AM]

Morning.

Small heads up for later today:

Qualifying offers expire today at 5pm.  Many contracts signed last year on this date.

Leafs have Carrick, Leivo, Sparks unsigned

Also the three heading for arbitration.

It's the time of year for think pieces and endless photos of hockey players at the beach. So what are people thinking about today?

Thinking about...

Contracts

What Should the Leafs do with Peter Holland? | TBT
"If Peter Holland’s agent is doing his job properly, there is one player that he should be walking into the hearing ready to talk about – Lars Eller."

Sam Gagner, Jiri Hudler among remaining free agents worth a shot | ESPN

Five offseason storylines to watch: Benn, Burns, Anaheim's defense glut | SI
"Benn, the 2015 Art Ross winner and a finalist for the Hart in 2016, has one year remaining on a contract that pays him $5.25 million. The next deal, which he's eligible to negotiate now, will pay him a whole lot more."

Why NHL GMs need to say goodbye to the bridge contract | Sportsnet
"In a league so mired in parity, how do teams gain a competitive advantage? The answer lies in the same system that is so frequently their nemesis."

The value of a forward with net-front presence | TSN
"There’s some mysticism surrounding this type of player, but they do exist. An effective guy in and around the crease area can make quite the difference for an offence at both 5-on-5 and with the man advantage."

The second defence pairing | NHL Numbers
"There are still questions regarding how the Oilers plan to approach some of the secondary issues with the back end."

Sad analytics people

The tides of change | Blue Seat Blogs
"It was brought to light yesterday that Matt Pfeffer, an analytics consultant for the Montreal Canadiens was let go from the organization for his impassioned plea for the club to reconsider trading PK Subban. Now, in a vacuum, while it begs operational questions, it is not a big deal. Any employee who does not see eye to eye with their employer can be let go. However, this situation is emblematic of hockey’s growing civil war between the current powers that be and the emerging sub-culture of analysis-driven management."

Practical Concerns: The Analyst’s Plight | Hockey-Graphs
"If the analyst is right, but bad results occur due to randomness at the player level (slumps, injuries), he will be fired."

Money

NHL can’t crack Top 50 most valuable sports franchises | Puck Daddy
"The minimum for entry into the top 50 is $1.48 billion."

Vegas

Why fast-tracking might not be the best idea for Las Vegas | THN
"Our mission here is clear: We’re going to build an organization and a team that people in Nevada and Las Vegas will be very, very proud of," McPhee said, "and we’re going to do it quickly, and we’re aiming at the Stanley Cup. It’s that simple."

Foley says LV NHL team having trademark issues with name | NBC
"We have a lot of names in mind, but a lot of the ones I really liked are trademarked, so that’s a little bit of an issue," Foley said Wednesday. "I’m happy to take any suggestions anyone has for a name, particularly one that’s not already trademarked."

Media

NHL reaches landmark in-market streaming deal with Fox Sports | SI
"The agreement will allow in-market streaming of NHL games that are broadcast on Fox’s regional sports networks (RSNs)."