The Vancouver Canucks have a new look in the front office, yet it’s possible that the franchise might continue to produce headlines with goaltending drama.
Vancouver’s News 1130 Sports reports that the team called pending UFA Ryan Miller’s agent on Wednesday (in addition to Dave Bolland, as noted earlier). News 1130 Sports also reports that Miller wouldn’t have any issues playing in Vancouver, so there’s a chance that there can be a match.
That report was backed up by CTV’s Kelcey Brade:
Do note that this hasn’t been confirmed by the team or Miller’s agent, yet it doesn’t seem outlandish to imagine something working out between the Canucks and the 33-year-old goalie.
While Vancouver has two goalies under contract at the NHL level next season, Miller is far more experienced than either netminder. Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom have 88 career regular season games played between them while Miller has played in 559 (not to mention his playoff experience, the 2010 Olympic silver medal and a Vezina).
Lack makes $1.15 million for the next two seasons while Markstrom will be a RFA after he finishes out a deal that carries a $1.2 million cap hit in 2014-15. There’s no telling how far the Canucks and Miller even got in potential contract talks, yet at those cap hits, it wouldn’t be difficult for Vancouver to move one of Lack or Markstrom if necessary.
Again, a lot can change between today and July 1, let alone once deals can start to become official between free agents and new teams. Even so, such a storyline has to feel uncomfortably familiar for many Canucks fans … although perhaps the franchise could gain some much-needed stability in the end?
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.