Last November, Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves suffered a severe concussion (and a broken jaw) after being hit with a slapshot from Nashville’s Roman Josi:
The aftermath was a lost season and months of recovery, which Eaves describes as an awful experience.
“It’s been miserable,” Eaves told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s just no fun. I’m just worried about getting better every day — that’s all I can do.”
The incident came shortly after the 28-year-old signed a three-year, $3.6 million extension with the Wings, making the injury all the more frustrating. Eaves impressed in his first two seasons with Detroit, scoring 25 goals, but the severity of the concussion led to fear for his career.
(Eaves’ father, Mike, had his time in the NHL cut short to a concussion.)
In February, Eaves told the Red Wings’ website he had a headache “pretty much all of the time” and that physical activity was limited to riding a stationary bike.
Eaves still hasn’t been cleared by team doctors or shed the headaches, but did say they occur with less frequency.
He’s now resumed skating and hanging out with teammates, which seems to have brightened his spirits.
“The bad part is behind me now,” he explained. “This is part of the progress, skating with other guys and trying to get used to that. The speed is, obviously, not what it is at training camp.
“I’m just happy to be out there with the guys.”
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.
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.