Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils

Panthers limping into Flyers’ game


The Philadelphia Flyers are dealing with more than their fair share of injury woes, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on misfortune.

Philadelphia’s opponent on Saturday, the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET at the BB&T Center), might play minus their entire first line, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Tomas Fleischmann sustained a foot laceration that needed stitches on Thursday while Kris Versteeg (groin) and Stephen Weiss (lower body) are also questionable.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that they’re going to be short-term injuries,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said.

That’s in addition to the absence of forwards Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Marcel Goc (ankle), who have yet to play this season.

To help cope with those losses, Florida has called up 21-year-old forward Quinton Howden, who might make his NHL debut on Saturday. Under normal circumstances 23-year-old forward Scott Timmins would have also been a serious candidate to get promoted, but he is — you guessed it — injured.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere (wrist) might be available to return this week, but they will be without defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) for about a month.

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.