Wild, coach Yeo agree on multi-year contract extension


It’s official now.

The Minnesota Wild have agreed to a multi-year contract extension with head coach Mike Yeo, the club announced Saturday. The news comes after reports the two sides were closing in on a new deal.

With Yeo behind the bench, the Wild qualified for the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs in what was their first trip to the post-season since 2008 when they took the former Northwest Division. This year, they advanced to the second round of the playoffs, defeating the Colorado Avalanche in seven games and then taking the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to six games.

”I am very excited to continue to coach the Minnesota Wild and pursue a Stanley Cup for the State of Hockey,” said Yeo in a statement released by the club.

“Our fan support has been amazing and it went to a new level during the playoffs this season. We are all motivated to reward them.”

Added general manager Chuck Fletcher: “Mike has done a very good job the last three seasons as our Head Coach and we look forward to his leadership going forward.”

The Wild finished the 2013-14 regular season with a 43-27-12 record, good enough for 98 points and fourth in the highly competitive Central Division. Mixed in there along the way was a six-game losing streak through the end of December and into early January.

But even then, players were quick to defend their coach, and that included captain Mikko Koivu. He put the onus for their mid-season struggles squarely on the players rather than the team’s system or its coach.

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.