Washington’s Winter Classic alumni roster a real “Who’s that?” list of talent


Last week we heard about how Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier and Bill Guerin would be taking the ice on New Year’s Eve at Heinz Field for the 2011 Winter Classic Alumni Game. With that array of talent headlining things for Pittsburgh, we were immediately curious about who the Capitals would dust off to take on this hall of fame group.

Ultimately we knew already that legendary Caps goal scorer Peter Bondra was already set to play but who else could the Caps break out? Today, On Frozen Blog digs up the details and the lines the Caps will throw out there on December 31st and we’re left still excited but a bit disappointed.

Peter Bondra           Michal Pivonka         Alan Hangsleben
Paul Mulvey             Dennis  Maruk         Mark Lofthouse
Errol Rausse             Alan May                Nick Kypreos
Blair  Stewart           Greg Adams             Pete LeBoutillier

Pat Ribble           Ken Sabourin
Robert Picard      Sylvain Cote
Yvon  Labre         Gord Lane

Don Beaupre

All right so sorting through that we’re left to see more names that aren’t there than that will be playing. OFB makes mention that Donald Brashear and Kelly Miller will also play and those are notable Caps so that’s good. Seeing Michal Pivonka and Greg Adams makes us feel nostalgic for the 80 and early 90s all over again but there’s some huge names missing here.

On the forward unit we don’t see anyone like Mike Ridley, Steve Konowalchuk, or former captain Dale Hunter. On defense you could come up with an All-Star alumni unit of guys that are missing. Calle Johanssen, Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Jeff Brown all immediately come to mind as well as legendary king of the slap shot Al Iafrate. While it’s fun to see Don Beaupre’s name again, we’d be wrong to say we’re disappointed that Olaf Kolzig won’t be getting a shot.

We understand that a lot of these guys may have other job commitments (Dale Hunter owns a team in the CHL for instance and Calle Johanssen works on Swedish TV) but it’s a bit of a bummer to be without them nonetheless. Does this make us any less excited to see the game though? Hell no.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.