Scott Howson

Howson gets four big question marks for Nash


Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is already taking heat for trading Rick Nash to the Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.

After repeatedly promising to hold out for a return befitting “an elite player,” what Howson got were four question marks.

1. Dubinsky – a 26-year-old center coming off a 10-goal, 24-assist season; signed through 2014-15 with a $4.2 million cap hit.

2. Anisimov – a 24-year-old center that had 16 goals and 20 assists in 2011-12; set to become a restricted free agent next season.

3. Erixon – a 22-year-old defenseman with just 18 NHL games under his belt; drafted 23rd overall in 2009.

4. A first-round pick that’s likely to come late in the round.

Not that Howson didn’t acquire potential. Dubinsky is a two-time 20-goal scorer that may benefit from a change in scenery and an increased role in the offense. Anisimov had 10 points in the playoffs, tied for fourth on the Rangers. Erixon is still young, and defenseman often take longer to develop. And there have been plenty of impact players drafted late in the first round.

But no matter what Howson says in the wake of the trade, you can bet he wanted – and expected to get – more.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who broke the trade, “Howson managed this trade his way, but the components of this deal were available at the deadline and again at the draft.”

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.