The Washington Capitals have re-upped with one of their key restricted free agents, agreeing to terms with defenseman Karl Alzner on a four-year, $11.2 million deal.
“We are very pleased to sign Karl Alzner to a contract extension,” Caps GM George McPhee said in a statement. “Karl is just entering his prime and has been a model of consistency for our organization since he entered the League.
“He plays tough and valuable minutes against some of the NHL’s top players every game.”
Alzner, 24, will carry an average annual cap hit of $2.8 million until the 2016-17 season.
The former WHL Calgary standout set a career-high for average time on ice per game (20:57) last season, upping it to 22:18 in the playoffs.
Washington’s No. 5 overall pick at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Alzner finished second on the team in blocked shots last year (85), fourth among all defensemen in hits (45).
He was in the final year of a two-year, $2.57 million deal.
Earlier this summer, McPhee shot down any notion of possibly losing Alzner to an RFA offer sheet, saying Washington would match anything given to Alzner or Washington’s other key RFA — forward Marcus Johansson.
The deal is a solid one from McPhee, who now has his two youngest blueline talents — Alzner and 23-year-old John Carlson — locked up for a combined $6.76 million per season until 2017.
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.
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.