Jared Cowen

Taking no chances: Sens won’t rush injured Cowen back to action

Jared Cowen has missed the last seven Binghamton Senators games with a lower body injury and, if the parent organization has its way, it could be another seven before he returns to action.

“He’s a big part of our organization,” said Binghamton GM Tim Murray, nephew of Ottawa GM Bryan Murray. “Whether he’s 70 per cent or 60 per cent or 80 per cent, we’re not going to rush him. We feel we have enough players down there that can play, and he has already proven that he’s an NHL player.

“We’re not going to jeopardize him long-term by playing him right now.”

Cowen, 21, was expected to dominate in the AHL after last year’s solid rookie campaign with the Sens. He played in all 82 games, scoring 5G-12A-17PTS. while playing close to 18 minutes a night.

The hulking rearguard (at 6-foot-5, Cowen tips the scales at 230 pounds) led all Ottawa defensemen in hits during the regular season and upped the ante in a seven-game playoff loss to the Rangers, leading the entire Ottawa team with 28 hits.

As such, the Senators are preaching patience with his injury rehab. Cowen looks to be one of the cornerstones of an exciting young defense that also features Norris winner Erik Karlsson (22) and Marc Methot (27).

Concern does seem to be creeping in, though. The leg injury was originally diagnosed as minor but now, Cowen has no timetable for return.

“He’s out indefinitely, but we thought it was nothing, really, at the beginning,” Binghamton head coach Luke Richardson told the Ottawa Citizen. “It was great to work with him last year [in Ottawa], and I’m sure he’s disappointed and frustrated.”

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.