Mark Streit

Flyers coach Laviolette optimistic after major summer moves


The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off of a disappointing season where they failed to make the playoffs, but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette feels there are reasons to be upbeat about the franchise.

After all, they’ve had an eventful summer that involved adding forward Vincent Lecavalier, defenseman Mark Streit, and goaltender Ray Emery.

Lecavalier never turned into the consistent superstar that the Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping for, but the 33-year-old has been relieved of the expectations that came with his now bought out 11-year, $85 million contract. Now attention can be drawn more towards what he actually is: A well above average forward that scored at least 20 goals in 12 straight campaigns before the shortened season.

Meanwhile, Streit, 35, is a top-notch offensive defenseman that’s particularly dangerous with the man advantage.

Still, Laviolette has an addition reason for likely both of them.

“We pick up a real talented, experienced guy who can help with leadership,” Laviolette told the Flyers’ website. “That’s one of the nice things about our pick ups this summer is we added two guys who were captains of their teams before coming here and that should be a big help to our young group.”

Adding Emery was also big for Laviolette, given that he’s been a fan of the 30-year-old goaltender for quite a while.

“I remember before I was hired here, I was working for TSN in Canada and I was watching Emery play (for the Flyers) and I really liked him,” Laviolette said. “I was making a pitch for him on television to be added to the Canadian Olympic team because I thought he was playing so well at the time.

“As a matter of fact, the last game he played for the Flyers was in Calgary in 2010 and he won 3-0 and was phenomenal in the game. The next day, the news turned on him (with his injury).”

Emery had avascular necrosis, but he eventually managed to return. After excelling last season as the Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goaltender, he’ll compete for the starting job with Steve Mason.

That goaltending tandem is one of the things Laviolette is excited about going forward. As big as the additions of Streit and Lecavalier are, it might be Emery with his one-year, $1.65 million contract that steals the spotlight.

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

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.