Adrian Aucoin

Adrian Aucoin uprooted to Columbus, yet might never play there


In one of the stranger lockout twists, veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin could end up being a Blue Jacket in name only.

That’s something the 39-year-old acknowledged in speaking with the Columbus Dispatch over the weekend.

“Like it or not, I have to think about it,” he told the paper. “In a perfect world, I’d play forever.”

Aucoin’s current situation is far from perfect.

After spending the last three years in Phoenix, he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Columbus at the start of free agency, to (theoretically) provide experience on a young defense that would (theoretically) feature Ryan Murray, Tim Erixon and John Moore.

But that plan’s gone awry.

In November, Aucoin acknowledged his future might’ve gone awry too, telling the Dispatch losing the season means a “huge possibility” for his retirement.

“I’m not naive,” he said at the time. “I think we all saw what happened [with the last lockout], and there’s really no reason to think it would be different.”

What’s more, Aucoin didn’t just move to Columbus — he brought the whole family along with him. His wife and five children relocated to the Midwest, a decision based largely on Aucoin’s research.

“One guy I keep in touch with is Freddy Modin and he still lives in Columbus, which is a surprise because most Swedish guys go home as soon as they’re done,” Aucoin explained. “The conversations I’ve had over the years with guys like Luke Richardson and Scott Lachance and Ray Whitney — these guys had nothing bad to say about it.

“They all said when the hockey gets on track, it’d be one of the better places in the league to play.”

Aucoin isn’t the only veteran realizing the lockout could end his career. Jamie Langenbrunner spoke about the possibility, as have Edmonton’s Andy Sutton and Boston’s Shawn Thornton.

Older players realize that a year away from the game can essentially force a curtain call, which would be too bad for Aucoin, who really wants to play for the Jackets.

“My older daughter doesn’t want to leave Columbus,” he said. “My 10-year-old plays hockey, so he has a team and a set of friends. His buddies know I’m on the Blue Jackets and they want to see me play.

“They ask me when the lockout is going to end.”

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.