Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Hurricanes ink McClement to one-year, $1M pact


The Carolina Hurricanes signed defensive center Jay McClement to a one-year, $1 million contract on Wednesday.

They made no mistake about it: they’re getting him to do the dirty work, like winning faceoffs:

“Jay is a veteran centerman who is proficient in the faceoff circle,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said. “He’ll also provide elements of consistency and leadership for our club.”

In a lot of ways, the 31-year-old center is basically a replacement for Manny Malhotra. Both are strong in the dot and tend to start the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone, with mixed results.

McClement won the 26th-most faceoffs in the NHL last season, going 676-584 for a very nice 53.4 percent success rate. Malhotra won 59.4 percent, though he took fewer faceoffs and carries some obvious injury risks.

It’s not the type of move that will make or break Carolina’s season, obviously. Guys like these are signed with the hopes of soaking up difficult assignments and limiting the damage. The ‘Canes are banking on McClement accomplishing that next season.

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

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.