* It's hard to argue with choices such as Gerard Gallant in Florida because budget -- as in cheap -- plays as big a part in the hire as competency.

* If I'm inside Dan Bylsma's head he's figuring that he'll get the job of the first coach fired next November.

* Did somebody say "Edmonton?"

* Right now the Penguins coaching Roulette table not only defies the oddsmakers, it defies me.

* Paul Stastny absolutely will get paid almost twice as much as he's really worth.

* To me the most fascinating free agent, who'll be overpaid, is Ryan Callahan.

* Think about it; the only genuine reason for Cally to leave Tampa Bay is -- what else? -- moolah.

* Then again, that's like telling you that the sun comes up in the East.

* Robbie Laird is the most unsung member of the Cup-winning Kings general staff. That's because he's the scout who's unearthed much of the Champs' talent.

* Laird on Darryl Sutter: "I can't say enough about the terrific way Darryl uses his assistants. (Yet another reason why L.A. has done so well.)

* Guaranteed To Happen By Christmas: The Flyers goaltending situation will be as bolloxed up as the Thimble Theater starring Popeye. (Or, Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies, if you like Bugs Bunny.)

* I'd love to be the fly-on-the-wall when Barry Trotz and Alex Ovechkin discuss how The Big Eight becomes a team player on the Caps.

* Really, the questions are as follows: 1. Does Trotz speak Ovie? 2. Does Large Al understand Trotz-lish?

* Just wondering how Sidney Crosby feels about being the most overrated Hart Trophy-winner since the silverware was struck.

* One goalie I'd grab -- assuming that he's grab-able -- and that's Antti Niemi. With a year left at $3.8 million, he's got plenty of rubber-stopping left in his pads.

* Then there's the question regarding the plummet of Ryan Miller's ability since he blew Sid Crosby's stoppable shot in the Olympics that no one ever will forget.

* It says here that Miller is at least 15 percent worse than he was then. Ergo: Bidder beware!