Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler to have back surgery, out indefinitely

The Canucks will be without an underrated and important part of their defensive corps for an undetermined amount of time. Alexander Edler is going on the shelf for some time as he’s going in to get micro disectomy surgery on his back putting him out of the lineup indefinitely. Edler missed last night’s game against Nashville leading to Lee Sweatt becoming the hero of the night in the Canucks 2-1 win.

If you’re not familiar with Edler’s work this season on the blue line, perhaps it’s time to get acquainted with it. Edler leads all Vancouver defensemen in: goals, assists, points, and time on ice. While he doesn’t get the publicity usually given to such performers, the Canucks are very much going to miss his presence on the ice.

Somewhat conveniently, Vancouver is hoping to have Sami Salo back soon. While he’s a good defenseman, relying on him to stay healthy is a risky proposition as he’s been out all season with an Achilles tendon injury. The Canucks have had their share of annoying  injuries along the blue line this season with Salo, Dan Hamhuis, and Keith Ballard all seeing time on the shelf. They’ve been able to withstand previous injuries but Edler’s absence will be a true test. As for how long he’ll be out, the team won’t know until after surgery is completed. An extended absence would put a dent in the team’s depth and really put the pressure on Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa to keep their solid play up the rest of the way.

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.