Dean Lombardi

King GM admits dealing Bernier was very difficult


Many praise Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi for grabbing three assets for Jonathan Bernier – who was ready to move on as a restricted free agent any way – but he told that it wasn’t easy to part with the 11th pick of the 2006 NHL Draft.

“Unfortunately in this game, you’re not allowed to have a Grant Fuhr and an Andy Moog,” Lombardi said. “That’s the reality of what I’m dealing with … I don’t particularly relish these deals. You don’t start out with a hockey deal. It’s an asset deal. It was a very difficult deal to make. There was a lot of due diligence.

“It’s very difficult to get market value for a guy who’s No. 1. You do the best you can.”

Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford – another memorable former Edmonton Oilers goalie – raved about the 24-year-old netminder to ESPN.

“He’s the real deal,” Ranford said. “He’s really highly regarded by us. He’s not only a great goalie but he’s a great person. They’re going to love him there.”

There’s a sense of loss to the quotes from Kings execs, but the silver lining is that Lombardi believes that he made the right move by not moving him at the trade deadline.

” … Last year we talked a number of times … but I wasn’t completely convinced it was time to move John,” Lombardi said. “In the end, thank God I didn’t move him because he was clearly instrumental in us making the playoffs.”

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.