And then there were 9: Senators out, but future’s bright


No team is ever happy about being eliminated, but the Ottawa Senators can take more positives out of their first round exit than most.

What was supposed to be another rebuilding season turned into something more. Ottawa’s youth movement seems to be progressing nicely and they showed a lot of heart, battling into the dying minutes of Game 7 against the first seed New York Rangers.

Still, the Rangers held on to earn a 2-1 victory and advance to the second round, so let’s take a look back at the Senators.

What happened?

As is often the case, goaltending proved to be the difference. Although Ottawa’s Craig Anderson did a fine job, Henrik Lundqvist was superb. Ottawa never managed to get more than three goals on him in a single contest.

Who takes the blame?

It almost seems unfair to point fingers at the Senators, but if there’s one player that failed to live up to expectations, it was Milan Michalek. Coming off a breakout season, Michalek ultimately fizzled out when his team needed him the most.

What will they do about it?

They shouldn’t feel like they’re under pressure to make big changes. Although the transition might be painful, especially if Daniel Alfredsson decides to retire rather than complete his current contract, the Senators’ young players deserve a chance to show what they can do in key roles. Perhaps the biggest question going into training camp will be their goaltending. As previously stated, Anderson looked good in this series, but he has two promising netminders breathing down his neck in Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner.


And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

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.