In hindsight, trading up to draft Couture was a wise decision


NHL general managers take a lot of heat on PHT, so it’s only fair we occasionally point out a good move one of them makes.

In the case of drafting Logan Couture, Sharks GM Doug Wilson certainly made a good move.

Check that: Wilson made good moves, plural.

For those who require a refresher, Couture was drafted ninth overall in 2007. San Jose was able to get him after acquiring Toronto’s first- and second-round selections (13th and 44th) in a trade involving goalie Vesa Toskala, then using those picks, plus a third-rounder, to trade up with St. Louis for the Blues’ No. 9 pick.

At the time, Wilson was criticized for the move. Couture’s skating was a big question mark, and he went into the draft ranked 19th by NHL Central Scouting.

Fast forward to the present and Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart is calling Couture “the leader of this team,” per ESPN.

Couture, of course, returned from an apparent leg injury to score the overtime winner on Saturday versus Los Angeles. His 10 points in seven games — which include two game-winning goals — lead the Sharks in playoff scoring.

PS — The reason the Sharks traded up to get Couture is they were worried the Panthers were ready to take him with their 10th pick. Instead, Florida ended up picking defenseman Keaton Ellerby, who’s now — funny how these things turn out — with the Kings.

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.