The shifting opinion toward smaller NHL players… The Flyers & Bruins have the biggest salary cap penalties this season…Sam Gagner could be the Oilers best second line center in years…A roundup of Islanders news…Getting to know the new Red Wings…Several Lightning players could reach some significant milestones this season…Rick DiPietro’s goalie pads through the years.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Matt Reitz suggests the success of smaller players like Martin St. Louis, Scott Gomez, Nathan Gerbe and Brian Gionta has begun to change the way NHL teams look at players of smaller stature. That could work to the advantage of youngsters like Kings prospects Linden Vey and Brandon Kozun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The play of stars like St. Louis, along with the rule changes which favor speed over size, could result in a shift in the NHL over the next ten years, where ability, rather than physical size, will be more valued.

JEWELS FROM THE CROWN: “Quisp” notes the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins will have potentially significant bonus “overages” heading into this season, having exceeded the upper limit of the cap as a result of bonuses paid out.  The Flyers are looking at just over $1.402 million, the Bruins $1.130 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs could see those amounts deducted from their cap limit for this season. For the Flyers, who are already uncomfortably close to the cap ceiling, they’ll could end up shedding some salary later this season.

MC79HOCKEY.COM: Tyler Dellow makes the case Sam Gagner could be “the best offensive Oilers second center since Messier”. His expectation is Gagner could become a better-than-average second line center for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:He’s obviously not comparing Gagner to Messier, but rather noting his offensive numbers and ice time were pretty good last season, and if he can improve his defensive numbers, he has room for improvement into a capable center for Edmonton’s second line.

HOCKEY INDEPENDENT: B.D. Gallof offers up his take on a number of news and issues regarding the NY Islanders.  Of particular note is Gallof’s take on a supposed major trade for the Islanders which never materialized, something he blames on the club coming out on the losing side of a referendum for a new arena and  Blake Comeau re-signing a more affordable contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallof is one of the more entertaining hockey bloggers around,and few bloggers know more about the Islanders than he.

HOCKEY TRACKER:  Introduces us to new Red Wings Ian White, Mike Commodore, Ty Conklin and Fabian Brunnstrom, and the expectations for the four this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m interested in how well Commodore and Brunnstrom will fit into the Wings system. This club has a good record of “reclamation projects”, so it wouldn’t surprise me if those two fit in well.

 RAW CHARGE: John Fontana looks at some potential milestones for several Lightning players, including Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie, Dwayne Roloson, Victor Hedman and Dominic Moore.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out Fontana’s full list, as there’s a number of significant milestones for the aforementioned Lightning.

THE STRANGEST ONE OF ALL: Scotty Wazz looks at “The Many Pads of Rick DiPietro”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By Scotty’s count, DiPietro has used 26 different sets of pads. Perhaps that explains the history of injury woes?