Flyers

NHL Notes: Jets, Nikolaj Ehlers agree to 7-year, $42 million extension

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NHL Notes: Jets, Nikolaj Ehlers agree to 7-year, $42 million extension

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms on a $42 million, seven-year contract extension with forward Nikolaj Ehlers on Wednesday.

The extension begins a year from now and carries an average annual value of $6 million, the Jets said in a statement.

"This team, this organization, this city ... from Day 1 I was happy here," Ehlers said before the Jets opened their season against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

"It's amazing playing in front of all these fans. Winnipeg as a city is amazing, they love their hockey, so I could not see any reason to not want to stay here long term."

The 21-year-old Ehlers had 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games for the Jets last season (see full story).

Flames: Team signs 45-year-old Jagr to 1-year deal
CALGARY, Alberta -- Jaromir Jagr has signed with the Calgary Flames.

The 45-year-old Jagr agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday for his 24th NHL season -- and first with a Canadian team.

"I already said in a Czech newspaper it's 99.9 percent that his will be my last season, so I want to get the experience to one day say I played for a Canadian team," Jagr said.

The five-time NHL scoring champion is second behind Wayne Gretzky in NHL history with 1,914 points (765 goals, 1,149 assists).

Jagr has played 1,711 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey and Florida and is 57 games from passing Gordie Howe for the most NHL games played (1,767).

"If I can reach it, especially with a Calgary Flames jersey on, it's going to be special," Jagr said. "I don't want to look that far" (see full story).

Wild: Winnik signs 1-year deal after successful camp tryout
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have signed left wing Daniel Winnik to a one-year, $660,000 contract.

Winnik was in training camp on a tryout basis. He was a free agent after a career-high 12 goals in 72 games last season for Washington.

The 32-year-old Winnik became more valuable to the Wild with a back injury limiting left wing Zach Parise, and Winnik was rewarded Wednesday with a contract. He's been on the fourth line with center Matt Cullen and right wing Tyler Ennis.

The Wild will be his eighth NHL team. He played two seasons for Wild coach Bruce Boudreau when they were both with Anaheim. Winnik has 76 goals and 152 assists in 717 games, plus 58 games in the playoffs (see full story).

Sabres: Redmond acquired from Canadiens
BUFFALO, N.Y.  -- The Buffalo Sabres have acquired defenseman Zach Redmond in a trade that sent forward Nicolas Deslauriers to the Montreal Canadiens.

The move involving two minor leaguers was made on Wednesday, a day before Buffalo opens the season by hosting Montreal.

Redmond is listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds and was selected in the seventh round of 2008 draft by the then-Atlanta Thrashers. He has nine goals and 29 assists in 130 NHL games split between Montreal, Colorado and Winnipeg.

The Sabres announced Redmond will report to Rochester, their American Hockey League affiliate (see full story).

Blackhawks: Bickell signs 1-day contract to retire with Chicago
CHICAGO -- Bryan Bickell has signed a one-day contract so he can retire with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bickell was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2004 draft and spent his first nine seasons with the Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cup championships. He was traded to Carolina in June 2016.

The 31-year-old Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last November and played in just 11 games with the Hurricanes. He announced his retirement in April and scored a memorable shootout goal in his final game.

The Blackhawks also placed forward Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve and signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract. Forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Gustav Forsling were recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League (see full story).

Predators: Former Flyer Zolnierczyk signs 1-year, 2-way deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed Harry Zolnierczyk to a one-year, two-way contract keeping the 30-year-old forward with the franchise.

The Predators announced the deal Wednesday. Zolnierczyk will be paid based on a $650,000 contract when on the Predators' roster and $150,000 when assigned to Milwaukee in the AHL.

Zolnierczyk played 24 games and scored four points for Nashville last season. He had a goal and two assists in 11 playoff games as Nashville reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Undrafted, Zolnierczyk played at Brown, and his NHL career includes 84 games with Nashville, Anaheim, the Islanders, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with 13 points.

Capitals: High goal-scoring expectations for Ovechkin at 32
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin has scored 50 goals so regularly that finishing with 30-something was a disappointment.

Ovechkin is responsible for seven of the 20 times any player has scored 50 goals in a season since he entered the league in 2005. As Washington Capitals teammate T.J. Oshie pointed out, Ovechkin is "a pure goal-scorer, the best of our time," and his 558 career goals are well ahead of everyone else in the NHL in that time.

The challenge now is for Ovechkin to keep it up going into his 13th season at age 32. His 33 goals last season were his fewest in an 82-game season since 2010-11, and now the Capitals need him to up the ante after several key offseason losses.

"Last year's the minimum," general manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday. "I think he can get more goals than that."

But how many goals are realistic? Coach Barry Trotz thinks "you keep the bar at 50" until Ovechkin doesn't get there (see full story).

Nick Ritchie an unlikely hero as Ducks win in 11-round shootout

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Nick Ritchie an unlikely hero as Ducks win in 11-round shootout

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Nick Ritchie isn't one of the first players called upon for the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout.

He wasn't among the first 10 shooters Saturday.

Yet, Ritchie scored in the 11th round of the shootout and John Gibson stopped the final seven shooters in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

"It seems like once it gets over five or six (rounds) it can go over 15 sometimes, so there was a good chance I was going to get a shot there and I capitalized on it," said Ritchie, whose quick shot split the pads of Devan Dubnyk. Ritchie missed his other shootout attempt this season.

Prior to the goal, the teams combined for 13 straight misses.

"Anytime you win a shootout that goes that long, you feel fortunate you get the extra point. Some big stops from our goaltender, and we found a guy who scored the big goal. We'll take it," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. (see full recap).

Raanta saves 39 shots in shutout win for streaking Coyotes 
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The customized title belt the Arizona Coyotes pass around for a top performance in a victory was already in Antti Raanta's possession after a win two days earlier against Montreal.

Raanta did even more to earn the belt Saturday, though he handed it off to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Raanta made 39 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Coyotes won their fourth straight, scoring on their first shot in a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Raanta had his ninth career shutout, helping the Coyotes earn points for the fifth time in six games.

"You never get the shutouts just by yourself, you need a good team in front of you," Raanta said. "It shows you how much better we are right now ... I went with `Hammer' because Hammer's been blocking more shots than I have sometimes saved."

Cam Talbot made 31 saves for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost six in a row (see full recap).

Lundqvist pulled in Rangers' loss to Senators
OTTAWA, Ontario —  The Ottawa Senators' quick start led to an early exit for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Derick Brassard had a goal and two assists and Ottawa defeated the New York Rangers 6-3 on Saturday.

Lundqvist allowed five goals on 27 shots before being replaced by Brandon Halverson with 13 minutes remaining.

Halverson stopped five of the six shots he faced for New York in his NHL debut.

Matt Duchene and Mark Stone both added a goal and an assist for Ottawa, which has won two straight. Craig Anderson also stopped 35 shots and Johnny Oduya, Magnus Paajarvi and Thomas Chabot also scored (see full recap).

Lack saves 48 shots as Devils beat Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. — Eddie Lack made 48 saves and the New Jersey Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.

Making his third appearance as the backup since being recalled from Binghamton of the AHL on Feb. 4, Lack made a terrific glove save on Brayden Point's in-close shot midway through the second.

Ben Lovejoy, Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha and Miles Wood scored for the Devils. Taylor Hall had an assist and has a point in each of the last 17 games he has played in.

Tampa Bay got goals from Chris Kunitz, Point and Steven Stamkos, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots (see full recap).

Which player can the Flyers least afford to lose?

Which player can the Flyers least afford to lose?

When Sean Couturier briefly left Friday’s game in Columbus, his absence ignited a conversation around the NBC Sports Philadelphia newsroom which led to the Hot Take question: Which player could the Flyers least afford to lose to injury? In other words, which Flyer is the most indispensable to the team’s overall success? Here's my ranking, starting at the top, of the players the Flyers can least afford to lose. Let the debate begin.

1. Michal Neuvirth 
This may come as a surprise considering that just a few weeks ago, Neuvirth was serving in a reserve role behind Brian Elliott who was the clear-cut No. 1 in net. Since stepping in as a starter, Neuvirth has promptly delivered with a .950 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against. The reason Neuvirth falls under the heading as most indispensable is rather simple: the drop-off from Neuvirth to Alex Lyon is significantly steep. Lyon struggled in his two starts adapting to the NHL’s level of pace and skill, and right now, Lyon’s not a viable option to handle the No. 1 job over an extended period. Without Neuvirth, Lyon and Phantoms goalie Dustin Tokarski, who has 34 games of NHL experience plus five playoff games with the Montreal Canadiens, would serve as the Flyers' 1-2 punch in net. 

2. Ivan Provorov 
The Flyers' shutdown defenseman logs more than three minutes of ice time more than the next Flyers defenseman, and his playing partner, Shayne Gostisbehere, has elevated his game (both offensively and defensively) since he’s been paired with Provorov. Andrew MacDonald’s flaws weren’t quite as exposed playing side-by-side with Provorov prior to the switch. While Provorov hasn’t quite been his steady self over the past several weeks and his puck handling at times can be adventurous, you can’t disregard his importance because his work along the boards and his ability to separate the player from the puck is unquestionably the best among the Flyers' blueliners. If the Flyers lost Provorov, rookie Robert Hägg or MacDonald would likely join Gostisbehere on the top pairing, with Radko Gudas moving up to the second pairing and Mark Alt becoming a regular contributor again.

3. Sean Couturier 
The Flyers' No. 1 center has logged some monster minutes this season. Among forwards, only Kings captain Anze Kopitar has been on the ice more than Couturier, who also ranks fourth in average ice time. Couturier plays a vital role in all situations and will likely be a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward, not to mention, he’s also on pace to score a mind-blowing 41 goals this season. When Couturier registers a point, the Flyers' record is 23-4-9 this season. Few players can drive to the net with and without the puck as effectively as Couturier. Senators coach Guy Boucher recently called him a “buy-in guy,” who will essentially do anything that is asked of him and then some. It's difficult to envision how the Flyers would adapt without Couturier. I can't see Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton or Valtteri Filppula stepping into his role as the No. 1 center, so moving Claude Giroux to the middle and Jake Voracek to left wing on the first line would likely make the most sense.

4. Jakub Voracek 
When healthy, Voracek makes an entire line better, no matter who he’s with. While Voracek commits his share of turnovers and giveaways, his ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone is such an important part of the team’s puck possession metrics. He started the season with Giroux and Couturier before Dave Hakstol was forced to break up that trio in a desperate attempt to snap the Flyers' 10-game winless streak. His numbers have remained consistent regardless of who he has played with, and while he’s not a primary scoring option, the Flyers' power play funnels in Voracek’s direction with his league-leading 25 power play assists. No one Flyer can step into Voracek’s role and do precisely what he does on a nightly basis.

5. Claude Giroux 
Hard to believe that the Flyers' leading scorer and the NHL’s fourth-leading scorer would be fifth on this list, but it speaks more to the depth of the Flyers than it does to Giroux himself. Without Giroux, Couturier would not be enjoying the career season he’s had, and even Travis Konecny for that matter. Giroux is back playing in the 20-minute range after an injury-plagued season, and like Couturier and Voracek, redistributing those minutes would not come easily. There are the intangibles to Giroux’s game that are hard to quantify. Giroux's absence would create several holes — the ability to create offense with his vision and hockey IQ, his leadership, and the importance of winning crucial faceoffs. At 58.5 percent, Giroux ranks third in the NHL in faceoff percentage.