Evgeni Malkin

Malkin, Pacioretty, Dubnyk named NHL’s three stars of week


A setup man, a sniper and a backstopper — all of whom have faced criticism this season — make up this week’s NHL three star selections.

First star went to Evgeni Malkin, who notched seven assists in four games as the Penguins won three times to move back atop the Metropolitan Division. Malkin, who faced heat this season for his lack of goalscoring (just four in 24 games), now leads the NHL in assists, has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games and has four multi-point games in a row.

Second star went to Max Pacioretty, who led all NHL skaters with five goals this past week and the Canadiens to three wins in three games. Pacioretty scored a natural hat-trick in a 6-2 win over Minnesota and two goals in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh, failing to hit the scoresheet in a midweek victory over Washington. The goals also bumped a slump in which Pacioretty was receiving some criticism, not unlike Malkin — the Montreal forward had gone eight games without a goal prior to the Wild game.

Third star went to Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk, who had struggled so mightily this season the Oilers went out and signed Ilya Bryzgalov to compete for the No. 1 gig. Responding to the challenge, Dubnyk went 2-0-0 last week with a 0.50 GAA and .974 save percentage, posting his first shutout of the season in a 7-0 whitewash of Columbus.

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.