tobias enstrom

Jets’ Enstrom gets bad injury update

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The fight to see a playoffs game in Winnipeg for the first time since 1996 just got harder.

28-year-old defenseman Tobias Enstrom hasn’t played since Tuesday due to a mid-body injury that’s believed to be related to his back. He was initially classified as day-to-day, but now it’s being described as a week-to-week issue, according to the Winnipeg Sun.

Given that the Jets only have about a week and a half until their last game, it’s safe to say that Enstrom might not be back until the postseason. Assuming of course that the Jets can even find a way to secure a playoff spot.

“You’ve got your guys and I don’t deal with what I don’t have, you know that,” said Jets coach Claude Noel. “We’ve got a lot of options, a fair amount of guys, 10 defensemen and 11 with Toby.”

Fair enough, but Enstrom isn’t just any defenseman. He’s reached the 50-point mark in separate campaigns and has a career average of 23:29 minutes per contest.

At the same time, he’s had trouble staying healthy over the last couple of seasons. He suffered a broken collar bone in 2011-12 and missed time earlier this season with a shoulder injury.

Winnipeg has just six games left in its schedule and is two points behind the eighth place New York Rangers. To make matters worse, the Rangers have played in one less contest.

The Jets next two games will be at home against teams that no longer have a realistic shot of making the playoffs: the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. Anything short of winning both of those matches would be a big blow to the Jets’ chances of advancing to the postseason.

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.