‘Hawks expect Leddy to ‘get back to playing’ after Game 4 benching

Nick Leddy will be in the lineup for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and, according to his head coach, he’s actually going to play.

That’s what Joel Quenneville told reporters on Friday, saying the 22-year-old blueliner will be back in the mix after playing just four shifts for 2:37 of ice time in a Game 4 OT win against the Bruins.

“I think we expect Nick to get back to playing more in tomorrow’s game,” Quenneville explained. “I think as the game progressed last game, not getting him out there against the match-up that we were looking for was there, too. Then late in the game we didn’t go there.

“I thought the five guys in our rotation were getting the job done.”

Leddy went into Game 4 averaging around 16 minutes per game this postseason, down from 17-plus in the regular season.

He has struggled at times, especially offensively (zero goals, two assists) and his minus-7 rating likely wasn’t helping matters.

It was interesting to hear Quenneville speak about his confidence in a five-man rotation, because Leddy’s benching in Game 4 put an increased load on Chicago’s blueline.

Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith all played over 25 minutes each — coincidentally or not, the ‘Hawks allowed five goals in a game for the first time this postseason — and some thought the ‘Hawks may go to veteran Sheldon Brookbank as Leddy’s potential replacement for Saturday.

Brookbank, 32, filled in for Keith during his one-game suspension in the Western Conference finals. That said, Brookbank only played 6:50 and finished a minus-2 in the contest, and hasn’t drawn back into the lineup since.

Overall, Quenneville committed to Leddy but stressed the young defensemen needs to do more offensively.

“He brings a nice guy from our back end that can move the puck and defend and do what we need him to do to get involved in the attack,” Quenneville said. “We’ll look forward to getting him more involved.”

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.