Leafs celebrate

Fraser hoping Leafs can sign Franson


Defenseman Mark Fraser is happy to have signed a one-year contract without having to go to arbitration with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What Fraser wants now is a deal for his blue-line partner, Cody Franson.

“He’s going through a similar thing,” Fraser told TSN 1050 today, referring to Franson’s contract situation. “But for his sake and our team and myself, I really hope it can be sorted out because he’s just a great asset and he helped me out a lot.”

It’s been reported that the Leafs could be forced to trade Franson, a restricted free agent, in order to stay under the salary cap for the 2013-14 season. (Toronto also needs to negotiate a new contract with RFA forward Nazem Kadri.)

One other option that’s been suggested is for the Leafs to buy out (non-compliance version) or trade veteran John-Michael Liles.

For what it’s worth, we tend to see a Liles buyout as unlikely. The 32-year-old puck-moving d-man isn’t all that far removed from being worthy of a four-year, $15.5 million contract extension. If the Leafs are willing to retain some salary, he should be tradeable. And even if he’s not, would they really be willing to take a cap hit for the next six years for him to play elsewhere?

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.