Flyers

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Connor McDavid to 8-year, $100 million deal

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Connor McDavid to 8-year, $100 million deal

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers paid a huge price to lock up superstar captain Connor McDavid.

But it could have been even higher.

The Oilers said Wednesday that the team and McDavid have agreed to an eight-year, $100 million extension.

That makes the 20-year-old league MVP the highest-paid player in the NHL on an annual basis ($12.5 million per season), but it's about $750,000 a year less than what reports last week figured he would be getting.

"It easily could have been a lot higher in value and shorter in term," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said.

McDavid's extension kicks in after he finishes the final year of his entry-level deal next season. If the NHL's salary cap stays at its current level of $75 million, McDavid's salary alone would take up 16.6 percent of the Oilers' cap.

But any cap relief would be welcome to Edmonton. The Oilers are also working to re-sign Leon Draisaitl, who is a restricted free agent after finishing his entry-level deal and due a big raise.

"Part of this partnership was talking about building a team, and Connor was emphatic as was I about keeping this team competitive," Chiarelli said.

"There are challenges at every juncture when you are building a winning team in the salary cap era. Connor recognizes that, Jeff Jackson (McDavid's agent) recognizes that and we're confident we'll be able to ice a winning team, one that can contend and win the Cup" (see full story).

Canadiens: Galchenyuk agrees to deal to avoid arbitration
MONTREAL -- Alex Galchenyuk and the Montreal Canadiens avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $14.7 million contract Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Galchenyuk was a restricted free agent.

Drafted third overall by Montreal in 2012, the American center had 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games last season and added three assists in six playoff games. He has 89 goals and 115 assists in 336 career NHL games.

Galchenyuk was born in Wisconsin while his father, Russian player Alexander Galchenyuk, was with the International Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals.

Rangers: Fast re-signs; Desharnais inks free-agent deal
NEW YORK -- The Rangers have re-signed restricted free-agent forward Jesper Fast and signed free-agent center David Desharnais.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the moves Wednesday.

Fast, who won his second straight Players' Player Award for team play this past season, got a three-year contract worth $1.85 million annually. Desharnais received a one-year contract worth $1 million.

The 25-year-old Fast skated in 68 games this past season, with six goals and 15 assists. The Swede finished third among Rangers forwards in hits (99) and ranked fourth among the forwards in blocked shots (44).

Fast, who is expected to be sidelined for five months after hip surgery in early June, has skated in 216 NHL games and collected 22 goals and 43 assists.

The 30-year-Desharnais gives the Rangers added depth at center behind Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. He has won more than 50 percent of his career faceoffs.

Desharnais has played in 453 games over parts of eight seasons with Montreal and Edmonton, with 81 goals and 173 assists. The Laurier-Station, Quebec, native split this past season between Montreal and Edmonton, with six goals and eight assists in 49 games.

Desharnais has played in 51 NHL playoff games with four goals and 13 assists. He skated in 13 playoff games with Edmonton, with one goal and three assists.

Ducks: Team signs goalie Berra away from new Swiss squad
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Goalie Reto Berra has signed with the Anaheim Ducks, returning to North America less than three months after agreeing to a three-year deal with Fribourg-Gotteron in his native Switzerland's top league.

Berra used an out clause in his Swiss deal to return to the NHL on Wednesday.

The Ducks gave a one-year deal to Berra, who will provide organizational depth behind John Gibson and new signee Ryan Miller.

Berra played seven games for Florida last year, spending much of the season in the AHL. The 30-year-old veteran has appeared in 71 NHL games over five seasons with Colorado, Calgary and the Panthers.

Berra signed with Fribourg-Gotteron in April after four seasons in North America. Berra played from 2009-13 for Switzerland's EHC Biel, which currently employs longtime Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.

Picking the best hub city for Flyers in NHL's 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs plan

Picking the best hub city for Flyers in NHL's 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs plan

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Picking the best hub city for the Flyers in the NHL's 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs plan.

Destra

This is honestly quite an interesting debate because while fans won’t be in attendance, location will still greatly play a factor in how teams perform based on a number of reasons.

Right off the bat, while some of the West Coast locations could work on paper because of the amount of hotels and facilities close to the arenas that could host a conference during the playoffs, you have to consider the ice. Outdoor temperature always affects rinks, but imagine having playoff hockey in Las Vegas late July with 102-degree weather. 

With the amount of players constantly on the ice, more wear and tear bound to happen because of the high levels of games at a single hub location, in addition to the heat levels — it just seems like a bad recipe. 

Two viable options that make the most sense would be Toronto and Pittsburgh. Both locations would be much more manageable weather-wise, have ample number of local facilities for training and, since they are tourist spots, hotels would be able to put up players, staff and whoever else needed to pull this off successfully. 

The Flyers haven’t been in Toronto for the playoffs since 2004 for the Eastern Conference semifinals — a series that they won in six games, but struggled away from home ice. 

Pittsburgh is a spot the Flyers know well and can be used to their advantage. Their overall record on the road against the Penguins is 58-67-22 and while it’s not the best, the Flyers have had the edge in the playoffs, winning four of the seven matchups between the two teams.

Obviously individual records between the Leafs and Penguins aren’t a huge factor, considering there’s no guarantee the teams would even meet — but having that as a reference for the Flyers’ success at those arenas seemed important to note. 

Either way, playoff hockey — the best kind of hockey — is being discussed and I’m sure the league is going to pull through and make the best choices for their players and fans.

Emmer

I understand there won’t be much of a home-ice advantage without fans in attendance but please, anything but Pittsburgh. I could see how there could be an argument of how the Flyers could possibly be more comfortable in battling in playoff hockey in a setting such as PPG Paints Arena, but there’s just a sense of discomfort I have with the thought of the Flyers having to spend such a lengthy amount of time in the home city of their biggest rival.

With that, I’m going with Columbus, only if that cannon is buried in some storage closet underground far away somewhere. I think Nationwide Arena would be one of the best spots on this list for the Eastern Conference hub city. More specifically, it would be most ideal for the Flyers as it would be the closest option in the country to Philadelphia besides Pittsburgh.  

Hatcher

Before I go picking a city here, there’s a really important issue to address. Out of an abundance of concern for everyone’s health (and understandably so), the Canadian-U.S. border is still closed. Which means that if you’re a non-Canadian, you can enter Canada, but only if you’re healthy and have a work visa. That includes most NHL players and team personnel who are not from Canada but are employed by a Canadian hockey club. Even so, those people with visas must quarantine for 14 days, which makes me wonder how a Canadian hub city would work considering the current guidelines and the number of teams that would hold their camps in the United States. I may just be missing something here, but border barriers still seem to be an issue. 

Operating under the assumption that current guidelines continue, it seems the best way to go would be two cities in the United States (I guess?).

For the East, I’d like to see it in Columbus. That is, if and only if, there are not thousands and thousands of Ohio State students around. From some quick research it seems OSU is aiming to announce its plans in mid-June for the fall semester, which could, and probably would overlap with the NHL’s postseason. If it opts out of in-person classes, Columbus is an ideal location.

The city has two arenas capable of hosting NHL games, Nationwide Arena and Value City, where the Buckeyes play. Both are outfitted with the necessary broadcasting equipment to be able to bring the game to the fans at home. And, while I’ve heard that geography doesn’t actually concern the player that much, it is one of the few cities in the eastern half of the United States.

Fordyce

I’m going to choose a building the Flyers are very familiar with — Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Familiarity isn’t a bad thing, and the Flyers know Toronto well, it’s a hockey hotbed, and I’m sure the buzz will be palpable. However, with the absence of fans, the Flyers would get to play in a great hockey atmosphere, minus the raucous hostile crowd that usually awaits the orange and black for a game in Maple Leaf country.  

While the idea of playing in a place like Pittsburgh and winning in enemy territory on the Penguins' ice sounds appealing, there are plenty of factors already at play here, namely getting back in game shape, trying to recapture the momentum the Flyers had before the NHL pause, as well as health concerns. The last thing Alain Vigneault and company need is for the arena they’re playing in to become another character in what is already the most complicated script the NHL has ever written.  

Hall

It's important to note that the Eastern Conference's tournament could be held in a Western Conference city, so the 10 cities under consideration — Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Edmonton, Alberta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia — are all possibilities for the Flyers.

Picking the best city for the Flyers, let's go with Pittsburgh. There's a familiarity with the trip and PPG Paints Arena, where the Flyers are 14-4-4 in 22 regular-season games. With no fans, the idea of winning in Pittsburgh could be a fun source of motivation for the Flyers, even providing an underdog type of feel. The Flyers have always seemed to relish the opportunity of playing and winning in Pittsburgh.

"The ideal hub city is a place where there’s enough room for players to have a life, they’re not going to be sent back to their hotel rooms and stay there 24/7 when they’re not practicing and playing, but it’s going to be a contained environment and it’s going to be a secure environment," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last Friday. "It’s going to give the players some opportunity for some entertainment and some freedom, but within a contained environment."

From that perspective, Pittsburgh might not be the most attractive city among the 10. But from a hockey standpoint, it feels like a good fit for the Flyers.

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Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

As my family has spent a great deal of time together at home the last few months, I found myself repeating the same thing (as parents often do) to my children, ages 9 and 11: Help out when you can, be a good teammate.

That led me down the path to ask a handful of former Flyers players this question: Who was your favorite teammate when you played in the NHL?

Chris Therien (Flyers defenseman, 1994-04, 2005-06)

"That's a good question and there was a lot of great ones. I roomed with John LeClair and played with a lot of really, really high-caliber guys that were high-caliber people, as well.

"I'm going to say, at the end of the day, Luke Richardson was the best teammate on the ice and probably the best teammate off the ice, as well. He had great leadership qualities. He knew team bonding. You understood the long season that guys deal with. He helped me keep the room light a lot of the time. Just an absolutely sensational human being.

"Easily a person I will never forget until the day I die because of those great qualities that he possessed as a friend, a teammate and a leader."

Rick Tocchet (Flyers right winger, 1984-92, 2000-02)

"Craig Berube is definitely one for me. Whether he played two minutes or 15 minutes, he always thought of the team. A very unselfish player and was an excellent leader even though sometimes he didn’t play a lot in some games. Kept the room loose and serious at the same time."

Brian Boucher (Flyers goalie, 1999-02, 2009-11, 2013)

Phantoms, 1997-98:


Neil Little

"The greatest guy I played with! This guy was always willing to lend a hand, advice, share a story and laugh. He was my first goalie partner in pro hockey and he set the bar incredibly high. To this day, he’s still helping me. He was responsible for getting me back to Philly from San Jose and also helped land a spot for my son Tyler to live in Plymouth, Michigan, by setting him up with his childhood buddy Chris Osgood while he’s playing for the U.S. national team development program. He’s the best!

"

Flyers, 1999-00
:

Mark Recchi

"As a rookie that year, Rex always made me feel welcome to dinners, golf and whatever else was going on. He always was generous too!

"

Rick Tocchet  

"Late addition to the team but had instant respect the minute we got him. He too like Rex always included me and made me feel like I had been a teammate for years. Extreme work ethic and showed me as a young guy how hard you have to work to be a pro.

"

Keith Jones

"Same as the other two guys. He was great to me. He always had a line for me the minute Beezer (former Flyers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck) gave up a goal. He’d say, 'Start stretching, kid!' He’s always been there for me. Even up to this day! Love Jonesy!

"

Later years:

Jody Shelley

"Played with Jody in Columbus, San Jose and Philly. Team guy! Great friend. Spent lots of time with him doing extra practice because we weren’t playing much."



Joe Thornton

"Never met a guy who loves being at the rink and being with the guys as much as Jumbo. He rarely had a bad day. Played with him in San Jose.
"

Bill Clement (Flyers center, 1971-75)

"Bernie Parent: He was never in a bad mood. All he did was smile and laugh and keep us loose. No matter how difficult certain situations seemed, he was the messenger that let me know life would go on and be better than it was yesterday. Maybe it was because he knew he could single-handedly control outcomes on the ice."

Keith Jones (Flyers right winger, 1998-00)

Craig Berube. Protected my [butt] on a game-to-game basis!”

Anything else made him a great teammate?

“Nothing!”

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