Kings hope to heal wounds by bringing in the Russians

The Los Angeles Kings are dealing with two overriding problems right now: injuries and a lack of scoring. With offensive defenseman Alec Martinez joining Dustin Penner on the IR, the Kings will turn to two Russian youngsters: scoring blueliner Slava Voynov and forward Andrei Loktionov.

Voynov played the biggest role of the two so far this season, as he received a nice amount of playing time while Drew Doughty struggled with an injury. The Russian blueliner racked up all three of his points against the Dallas Stars, which ended up being the last game of his first stint with the big club. He likely won’t get that same amount of time since he’s subbing for Martinez instead of Doughty, but either way he’ll try to be an offensive catalyst from the blueline.

If any of the two call-ups makes a big difference, it should be Loktionov, though.

Kings coach Terry Murray hopes the natural center can bring some creativity and puck possession to Penner’s spot on the second line alongside Mike Richards and Dustin Brown. Voynov got more reps so far in 2011-12, but Lotionov played 19 games last season, with much of that time coming as a left wing with Anze Kopitar. He only managed seven points in 2010-11, so the hope is that he brings adds more zip this time around.

Losing everyday players to injuries is rarely a good thing, but the Kings might just enjoy a little Russian invasion.

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.