Flyers

More NHL Notes: Devils draft Nico Hischier with No. 1 overall pick

More NHL Notes: Devils draft Nico Hischier with No. 1 overall pick

CHICAGO -- The New Jersey Devils have selected center Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft.

The 18-year-old Hischier is the highest drafted Swiss player in the NHL history. He had 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season. He spent the previous two seasons in the Swiss pro league, where he was coached by current Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher.

Hischier fits in nicely with general manager Ray Shero's desire to put a faster team on the ice. New Jersey is coming off its worst season in nearly three decades, finishing with a 28-40-14 record.

But Hischier is listed at 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds, and will need to put on more muscle to succeed in the NHL.

The draft is being held in Chicago for the first time (see full story).

Capitals: Oshie signs 8-year, $46 million extension
CHICAGO -- The Washington Capitals have re-signed right winger T.J. Oshie to a $46 million, eight-year contract.

Oshie will count $5.75 million against the salary cap through the 2024-25 season.

General manager Brian MacLellan announced the deal Friday just before the start of the NHL draft. Oshie was set to be an unrestricted free agent.

The 30-year-old forward tied Alex Ovechkin for the team lead with 33 goals last season. That was a career high, as he has 56 points despite playing only 68 games.

In 591 NHL games with St. Louis and Washington, Oshie has 169 goals and 248 assists for 417 points (see full story).

Blackhawks: Team continues overhaul with trade
CHICAGO -- General manager Stan Bowman promised changes were coming after the Chicago Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Boy, he wasn't kidding.

Chicago re-acquired Brandon Saad and parted with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin in a pair of surprising trades Friday, giving the Blackhawks a younger look and more cost certainty for their roster.

"This is a day of highs and lows," Bowman said. "There's some tougher conversations, but there's also, we're moving ahead, we're excited about what we have coming in."

The Blackhawks won the Central Division last season with a 50-23-9 record, finishing with the most points in the Western Conference. But they were swept by Nashville in the opening series, managing just three goals in 13 periods in an embarrassing performance for a team with three championships since 2010.

Bowman angrily called it a complete failure, and then overhauled coach Joel Quenneville's staff and replaced the coach of the team's top minor league affiliate.

Turns out he was just getting started.

Bowman traded forwards Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago's sixth-round selection in this weekend's NHL draft to Columbus for Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round draft pick next year. The deal was announced less than an hour after Hjalmarsson was traded to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin (see full story).

Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

CALGARY, Alberta — Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and the Flyers from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

"We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family," Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

"This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

BOX SCORE

The entire play was a thing of beauty.  

The only debate was which part was prettier: Claude Giroux’s pass or Sean Couturier’s shot?

“I don’t know," Couturier said. "Ask him and see what he thinks."

“It’s a pretty special play to be able to get that puck into open ice to let Coots skate onto it,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.

After Couturier won a faceoff in the defensive zone, the puck eventually swung towards the far boards in the neutral zone. Giroux delivered a backhand pass between his legs and the legs of Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev before Couturier chased it down and uncorked a perfectly placed shot that found the top-right portion of the net (see highlights).

“The puck was rolling so I just shot as hard as I could,” Couturier said. 

"I saw Coots had a foot race and usually he doesn’t beat the other guy, but he was able to beat him there,” Giroux said half-jokingly. “He’s been playing great hockey and it’s fun to be on his line.

“It’s that kind of play that you can’t really describe. I’ll put it somewhere where he might be able to get it."

Couturier’s game-winner with 2:55 remaining in regulation Tuesday was part of the Flyers' three-goal third-period outburst on the way to a 4-2 win (see observations). It was the team's fourth consecutive victory, making it the first time since February 2014 the Flyers have strung together four straight wins in regulation, improving their record to 12-11-7.

The Flyers also snapped a six-game winless streak at the Wells Fargo Center dating back to Nov. 9.

“The last three games before this one, we had the lead and everybody bought in on how we wanted to play to keep the lead, and now we had a different test,” Giroux said. “We’re down a goal and guys just have a feeling in the room that we’re going to come back. It’s a good feeling right now.”

The Couturier-Giroux combination got the Flyers on the board in the opening period when Couturier won the draw in the offensive zone after sliding the puck behind him and Giroux finished with a one-time blast that beat Frederik Andersen.

“We switch around and try different things offensively,” Couturier said. “Having him on the right side there, G is ready for a one-timer if I win it and lucky enough the puck ended up right on his tape.”

Not only did the Flyers have a pair of first-rounders on their top line, Hakstol also elected to pair fellow first-round picks Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny on the team’s fourth line. Together with Taylor Leier they brought an element of speed and energy that led to the Flyers' game-tying tally in the third period when Konecny’s shot grazed off two Maple Leafs for just his second goal in his last 20 games.

“It was definitely part of our game plan to outskate their D and get in there,” Konecny said. “As a unit of three, we know we can cheat a little bit and get in on the forecheck because we know we can get back and defend in the right spots, so yeah, we were on top of them.”

“You guys can label them whatever you want,” Hakstol said. “They’re just one of our lines. We thought that line combination made sense with the speed and pace that all three of those guys play at. It’s one small tweak to our lineup that we made coming off the road trip out west.”

The Maple Leafs came into the game a little short on star power with top center Auston Matthews day to day with an upper-body injury. However, it hadn’t affected the Leafs in previous games as Toronto had a 5-0 record in contests Matthews had missed. Head coach Mike Babcock believed Tuesday night’s game was more of a missed opportunity.

“To me, we gifted two goals,” Babcock said. “The one tough play the goalie touched the goal and then the play where they come in, we are above those. To me, you can’t do that.”

The Flyers took down the Maple Leafs for the second time this season. They’ll meet one more time on Jan. 18 at the Wells Fargo Center.