On Friday, Johnny Boychuk became the 11th locked-out Bruin to sign overseas, joining Red Bull Salzburg of Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.
News of the signing was first reported by CSN New England’s Joe Haggery.
Boychuk, 28, is the latest NHLer to try his hand playing in Austria. Chicago’s Bryan Bickell, Carolina’s Andreas Nodl, New York Islander’s Michael Grabner, Buffalo’s Tyler Myers and Edmonton’s Sam Gagner are currently there, while the likes of New Jersey’s David Clarkson, Winnipeg’s Tobias Enstrom and Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek have come and gone.
(Of note, Boychuk will replace Enstrom as Salzburg’s NHL “import” defenseman.)
The move to Austria comes nearly nine months after Boychuk agreed to a three-year, $10.1 million extension with the Bruins. Boston was keen to lock him up after a solid 2011-12 campaign which saw him play in a career-high 77 games and average a career-high 20:37 minutes per.
As mentioned above, Boychuk is one of a growing number of Bruins playing abroad. Andrew Ference (Czech Extraliga), Tyler Seguin (Switzerland), Rich Peverly (Finland), Tuukka Rask (Czech Extraliga), Dennis Seidenberg (Germany), Zdeno Chara (KHL), Patrice Bergeron (Switzerland), David Krejci (Czech Extraliga) and Chris Kelly (Switzerland) are the others.
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.