Shaone Morrisonn

Shaone Morrisonn eager to prove he can stay in Buffalo lineup

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When Buffalo signed Shaone Morrisonn before last season as a free agent, he was brought in to give the Sabres a physical presence on their blue line and provide stability there. Instead, Morrisonn struggled a bit with injuries and didn’t quite fulfill what he’d hoped to do for the team.

After a wild offseason for the Sabres that saw owner Terry Pegula open up the vault and allow GM Darcy Regier to go wild and fill the team and their payroll up, Morrisonn sees a newcomer in Christian Ehrhoff join the team. He also sees younger guys like Mike Weber and Marc-Andre Gragnani step up late in the season and push for starting jobs on the blue line.

With the Sabres over the salary cap by more than $3.5 million according to, Morrisonn and his $2.075 million cap hit this season could be bound for another city via trade or for Rochester and the AHL. Morrisonn is out to prove that he can still play well and make it worth the Sabres while to keep him around as he told Bill Hoppe of the Niagara Gazette.

“There’s going to be some competitiveness in training camp, and you’re going to have to earn a spot. I think that’s great.”

Has Morrisonn thought about playing in the AHL for the first time since the 2004-05 lockout?

“Anything can happen — trades, getting moved,” Morrisonn said. “We’re over the cap, obviously. They got to make some moves. But I can’t really focus on that. I got to just focus on playing on the ice and competing and showing them what I got, and that’s all I can control.”

Morrisonn, who arrived in town Wednesday, said he hasn’t spoken to Ruff or general manager Darcy Regier yet. Clearly, though, Morrisonn wasn’t expecting this situation when he signed with the Sabres last August.

“I’m a gritty defenseman,” Morrisonn said. “I’m not afraid get physical and use my body and use my wheels. That’s what they got me in (for) last year. It’s just exciting to be here. (We’ll) see what happens. I want to be a part of this.”

Morrisonn’s main competition in training camp, if his salary isn’t his biggest road block that is, would be 23 year-old Mike Weber. Weber plays a similar sort of game. He’s tough defensively, physical, and has a big shot from the point as well. Morrisonn will have to show that he’s capable of doing more than Weber and the other defensive-defensemen in camp to keep his job. With the Sabres needing to get under the cap, Morrisonn is going to have to do a lot of big things in a short amount of time.

At the very least, if Morrisonn can prove himself worthy of a starting job, he could draw interest from teams in need of a guy like him. While he wants to see things through in Buffalo, staying in the NHL would be preferable to being sent to the AHL in salary exile. The battle for him to stay in Buffalo’s lineup will be worth watching.

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.