Flyers

Ovechkin scores a seat in an exclusive club

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AP Images

Ovechkin scores a seat in an exclusive club

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored twice to reach 600 goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the overtime winner as the Washington Capitals returned to first place by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Monday.

Ovechkin scored in each of the first two periods to get to 42 this season. The Russian winger became the 20th player and fourth-fastest in NHL history to 600 goals and is on pace to lead the league in goals for the seventh time.

Kuznetsov made it a night of celebration for Washington by scoring on a breakaway 4:11 into overtime.

Ovechkin's historic performance was crucial on a night when Jets winger Patrik Laine scored his 16th in the past 12 games to get to 41 this season. Nikolaj Ehlers also scored a 4-on-4 goal for Winnipeg, which got 40 saves from Connor Hellebuyck.

Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped 26 shots in his third consecutive start (see full recap).

Jones, Blue Jackets continue to surge
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seth Jones scored two first-period power-play goals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight, 5-2 over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Ian Cole also scored, Alexander Wennberg had three assists and Artemi Panarin recorded two assists for Columbus.

Behind a run of eight wins in 11 games overall and a season-high six straight at home -- including a just-completed four-game homestand -- the Blue Jackets moved past idle New Jersey into the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Columbus also edged within two points of third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division.

Down 4-2 until late, Montreal put Sergei Bobrovsky to the test in the third period. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner stopped all 24 shots the suddenly energetic Canadiens threw his way. He had 38 saves overall (see full recap).

Vesey, Zuccarello help Rangers down Hurricanes
NEW YORK -- Jimmy Vesey scored three times, Mats Zuccarello had two goals and the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 on Monday night.

Vladislav Namestnikov also scored for the Rangers, who ended a three-game losing streak and earned their first home win since Feb. 9. Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad each had three assists.

Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 41 saves for his second win of the season.

Teuvo Teravainen, Lee Stempniak and Victor Rask scored for the Hurricanes. Scott Darling, who has struggled in his first season with Carolina, made 17 stops.

Tied at 3 in the third, Vesey took a loose puck at the left faceoff circle and wristed a high shot past Darling at 12:15.

Zuccarello added an empty-netter at 17:23 for his 14th of the season and Vesey capped his hat trick with an empty-netter in the final minute for his 15th goal this season (see full recap).

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

This is a peculiar time for Ron Hextall.

In one facet, it's his time, precious for a build-from-within disciple who must feel like a kid on Christmas when the NHL draft arrives.

Then again, it's a weird time. Shortly after the Flyers' general manager unwraps his gifts and adds them to the toy bin, NHL free agency hits. Not a time when Hextall likes to play. Quickly, Christmas turns into the first day of school.

It's that time of year again for Hextall. The question is, have the times changed for the GM?

With the Flyers entering Year 4 under Dave Hakstol and looking to take the next step forward, some wonder if Hextall is ready to make free agency his new time. After all, much of the organization's youth is here and contributing, the core isn't getting any younger and the Flyers have more financial wiggle room — thanks to Hextall — with $17.2 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.

But if Hextall's vision was ever in danger of shifting, an expansion team's marvelous story lent credence to his plan, reinforcing the belief in the way he operates and constructs his own hockey team.

When asked Thursday about the constant chatter regarding his core's clock and the team's youthfulness catching up to it, Hextall spoke with conviction and at length.

"They might have different roles; you almost might not depend on them quite as much because your younger guys are coming up and taking a bigger piece of the pie," Hextall said. "So all of a sudden you don't need one guy scoring 85 points, he can score 75 points or 70 points because we've got these kids coming up that are scoring more and more. 

"That's how you build a team. You don't build a team by having three top players and they go out every power play and they win you games. It's just not the way it works. You saw — Vegas is a good example. They were the best team in the league. Not the best talent, they were the best team. Teams still win. Teams still win. And that's what we've got to continue to build."

So if you were hoping Hextall was tinkering with the thought of making a free-agent splash, think again. He will stick to his guns and always has, constantly stressing the importance of never deviating from the course set at the journey's start.

None of which is to think Hextall won't utilize free agency to improve. He will make additions strategically and judiciously, but doling out money and years to a stud won't happen.

And the moment Hextall reaffirmed his M.O., the pressure picked up.

On all levels.

On Hextall's faith in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and the mainstays delivering star-like production.

On the young foundation pieces taking heftier strides to lighten the loads for the veterans.

On the scouting and development personnel finding and molding game-changing talent.

And on the confluence of Hextall's motives and ultimate goal.

"We are still the ultimate team sport and I think Vegas proved that to all of us this year. The more we move along here, the more society, pro sports seem to put a spotlight on a star, and that's fine, but that star has got to have his teammates in our sport or you're not going to win," Hextall said. "You look at Washington, they had a lot of really good players in the playoffs. Devante Smith-Pelly. Do they win without Devante Smith-Pelly? A couple guys get all the credit but look what this guy did. We are still the ultimate team sport, we really are."

The ultimate test will be the Flyers proving it themselves.

More on the Flyers

2018 NHL draft profile: Rasmus Sandin, a defenseman Flyers should know and like

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft profile: Rasmus Sandin, a defenseman Flyers should know and like

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how those players would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Rasmus Sandin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Scouting report
The Swedish blueliner is a slick skater who looks like a pro with the puck on his stick. The 18-year-old sees the ice extremely well and can shoot and pass with precision.

As good as he is handling the puck, Sandin is also adept without it. He exploits gaps in the opposition's defense and attacks the net when the opportunity is ripe to create more offensive chances instead of simply floating around the perimeter.

His decision to come to North America and play for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds did wonders in his vital draft year. Sandin's plus-35 rating was best among all OHL rookies, while his 12 goals, 33 assists and 45 points over 51 regular-season games led all first-year defensemen. He also had a strong postseason with 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 24 contests.

Sandin isn't the biggest or quickest skater, but he makes up for it in many other ways.

Fit with Flyers
General manager Ron Hextall said the Flyers need to "restock a little bit" on defense given their previous prospects are either with the big club or flirting with making the NHL jump.

"I would be shocked if we don't draft a couple of defensemen," Hextall said Thursday.

Sandin could be an option at both Nos. 14 and 19. He projects to go in that range or possibly a tad later. Hextall's staff likely saw a good bit of Sandin while checking in on Flyers prospect Frost's 112-point season with the Greyhounds.

So Sandin has had the eyes of the Flyers and will have them watching on draft night as defensemen start going off the board.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

Profile: Ryan Merkley

• Profile: Dominik Bokk

• Profile: Noah Dobson

• Profile: Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: Martin Kaut

• Profile: Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: Serron Noel

• Profile: Joel Farabee

• Profile: Barrett Hayton

• Profile: Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: Joseph Veleno

• Profile: Vitali Kravtso