David Steckel

Devils trade David Steckel to Maple Leafs for a fourth round pick; More moves coming?

When a deal comes together between Brian Burke and Lou Lamoriello it’s like a layer cake of analysis, even if it’s a small deal. New Jersey sent center David Steckel to Toronto in exchange for a 2012 fourth round draft pick. It’s not a big deal by any means, but it’s one that has curious effects on both teams.

For Toronto, Steckel enters a situation where the Leafs have a lot of depth at center. Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski have the top two lines taken care of, but guys like Matt Lombardi, Tyler Bozak, and Philippe Dupuis are in the mix on the bottom two lines. Bozak was assumed to be the third line center while Lombardi would likely start on his wing, or vice-versa. Dupuis was set to be the center on the fourth line, but with Steckel and his league-leading faceoff winning abilities now in town, he likely slots in there.

The guy getting the squeeze here could be Bozak as Lombardi being healthy again after concussion issues makes him a bit redundant. Bozak is more of an offensive player but having him center a third or fourth line doesn’t make much sense and there isn’t room for him elsewhere in the lineup.

In New Jersey, Steckel was already squirreled away as the Devils’ third or fourth line center, but with him headed to Toronto now the door is open for the Devils young guys to take over. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello tells Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice that the move opens the door for others to fit in better with the team.

“It certainly frees up a roster spot for a combination of us looking into seeing what we can do with Petr Sykora and also the young players (Adam) Henrique and Mattias Tedenby and Brad Mills, Cam Janssen, I think they’ve warranted being on the roster,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “But the coaches will have different options at that center position: Hernrique, Petr Sykora and Brad Mills.”

Sykora has yet to sign with the Devils. If he is sticking around, that move will happen soon enough.

It’s a blip on the screen when it comes to headline-grabbing deals, but it’s the sort of deal that could lead to other others happening to follow it up, especially in Toronto.

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.