* Okay, my fine feathered friends, you're Martin Brodeur; what's your minimum salary requirement to play for the Penguins or Bruins? (My guess: $2 million.)

* But if I'm Marty I'd take a mil and have a fun, last season; maybe even a playoff game or two and then, Goom-Bye, NHL.

* Of this trio of puckstoppers -- Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun, Ilya Bryzgalov -- who'll land an NHL job this year? (I'd take Timmy, the no-holds-barred battler.)

* Speaking of goalies, the Upset-Signing-of-Summer Award goes to Jason LaBarbera.

* Not because he's a particularly good rubber-stopper but rather because he's now with the Ducks and has survived and survived and survived.

* The Ducks, by far, has the Best Two Ryans Punch in decades now that Ryan Kesler is with the other tough Ryan named Getzlaf.

* For the foes that will be no Getzlaf-ing matter. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

* Of all the rookie coaches -- after Mike Johnston in Pitt, of course -- the one who most arrests my attention is Bill Peters in Carolina.

* Peters represents Ron Francis' first big-time move in Raleigh and is one that could -- mind you COULD -- turn the Canes into winners again.

* Much will depend on how the Staal Cartel react to Peters; especially captain Eric.

* Too often in the past it has seemed as if Eric Staal believes that the "C" on his jersey stands for "Casual" and not El Capitan.

* By the way, people who urge Martin Brodeur don't quite understand that Mister Goalie still gets a kick out of playing hockey. Therefore, if the game still is so much fun, why not pick up another year's worth of moolah.

* Except not in Newark where there'll be a crisp battle for back-up between Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid.