Pre-game reading: Apparently, Jaromir Jagr would like to buy Nick Bjugstad a monkey

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— Up top, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones debate who should be given the credit for the Blue Jackets’ surprising success.

— He may not be a kid anymore, but Jaromir Jagr hasn’t lost his sense of fun. “He keeps telling me he is going to buy two monkeys, one for me and one for him,” said Florida teammate Nick Bjugstad. “I keep trying to tell him it’s illegal to own a monkey, or something. I don’t know what we’d do when we go on the road.” To which Jagr responded: “You know how on Christmas morning, some people get a ring at the doorbell and there’s a big package with a bow on the top? There’s going to be a monkey inside for Bjuggy. It’s going to be awesome.” Dear Santa: Please let Jagr be serious about this. (TSN)

— Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” column is always a must-read. This week, it includes the following tidbit: “One team we haven’t heard much from is Pittsburgh, but I think that will change. The Penguins are a legit threat to repeat and, at some point, GM Jim Rutherford is going to try and add. Remember his history. He prefers not to wait until the deadline.” Rutherford did a great job last season, adding the likes of Trevor Daley, Carl Hagelin and Justin Schultz. He doesn’t have a ton of cap space to work with, but it’ll be interesting to see if he tries to address a blue line that lost Ben Lovejoy to free agency. (Sportsnet)

— An interesting quote from Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty: “Stats are something that everyone looks at, but we don’t have egos on this team, myself included. If we’re expected to play a role or hone in on playing some good defense, we’re willing to do that.” In a totally unrelated story, P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators don’t visit Montreal until Mar. 2. But the two teams play in Nashville soon, on Jan. 3. (ESPN)

— We wrote earlier today about William Nylander and the trade rumors that have surrounded him in Toronto. But the most likely trade chip for GM Lou Lamoriello to play is James van Riemsdyk, a pending unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018 who may be hard for the Maple Leafs to re-sign. (TSN)

Dustin Byfuglien had a tough game Tuesday in Vancouver, where one of his point shots was blocked and went the other way for a Canucks goal. Big Buff leads all NHL skaters in average ice time (27:36), but is he the No. 1 defenseman that can deliver the Jets to the promised land?  That’s the question Winnipeg Sun writer Ted Wyman tries to answer. (Winnipeg Sun)

Enjoy the games!