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WHICH ALEX? -- Alex Steen and Alex Ovechkin went into Monday night's action tied for the league lead with 10 goals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Steen is the first NHL player to record 10 or more goals in his team's first nine games of a season since 2006-07, when Buffalo's Chris Drury and Atlanta's Marian Hossa turned the trick. Ovechkin needed 10 games to reach 10 goals.

"It's only nine games," said Steen. "(Ovechkin's) been doing it for years. I've been doing it for nine games."


BOON -- The Leafs acquired centre Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks for second- and fourth-round picks in this year's draft and a fourth-round pick next year. Bolland has been brilliant in Toronto, fulfilling a two-way role while collecting six goals and four assists in 12 games. Bolland has become one of Randy Carlyle's go-to guys and has the coach's trust. Great pickup by GM Dave Nonis.


BUST -- The Nashville Predators signed Viktor Stalberg to a four-year, $12-million contract after watching him help Chicago win the Stanley Cup. Nashville's offence tied for fewest goals averaged per game last season and they wanted Stalberg for a boost, but he's been either hurt or ineffective with zero points through six games.


WHAT'S BEEN GOOD -- We asked the NHL what they've liked so far this season and here's what deputy commissioner Bill Daly had to say:

"New divisional alignment. Clubs (particularly the Western Conference clubs) all love seeing every other club at least once in their own building. Also, seems to be creating interesting new races for playoff spots. Going to love to see how it all plays out, but I'm very bullish and pleased with the realignment."


WHAT'S BEEN BAD -- NHL vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan seems to be constantly involved in a hearing and subsequent suspension. "We've had comparable stretches in the middle of a season that have lasted for two or three weeks," Shanahan told the Free Press. "This is different because it comes at the start of a season. We want to make sure it's not a season-long pattern."


ARMCHAIR GM -- Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier shipped veteran forward Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders on Sunday, getting forward Matt Moulson in return, as well as a 2014 first-round pick and 2015 second-round pick.

Does Vanek make the Islanders better? We'll see, but the price New York GM Garth Snow paid was exorbitant. Vanek is a UFA at the end of this season so in essence this is a long-term rental. A one-season lease, if you will.

Prior to Monday's action, the Isles sat third in the Metropolitan Division and were in the playoff picture.

Vanek has 110 goals from the 2009-10 season forward. Moulson has 118 in that stretch. Vanek has a rep for being a bit of a coach killer. Moulson had great chemistry with John Tavares.

Maybe Vanek takes the Islanders over the top and they get to the conference final or better. Or maybe Snow just burned a number of valuable assets.


OLY WATCH -- San Jose Sharks centre Logan Couture has six goals and eight assists with a plus-eight ranking. Couture has developed into one of the league's best two-way players. With speed, vision on the ice and an understanding of the game at both ends -- he's certainly got Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman's attention.


AWARDS WATCH -- The Jack Adams Award. Three-way race between Bruce Boudreau, Todd McLellan and Patrick Roy right now. If we're handing out the award tomorrow, it goes to Roy, who has overseen an amazing transformation in Colorado.


IF I COULD -- Given the chance to sign any player in the NHL this week regardless of age or contract status, I'd have to say Predators defenceman Shea Weber. The combination of power, smarts and mean streak make him a great place to start a franchise.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2013 C3


Updated on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 7:23 AM CDT: Fixes headline

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