With Timonen shelved, what’s next for Philly?

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On Tuesday, the Flyers announced veteran d-man Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with blood clots in his lower right leg and both lungs, and is currently being treated for the disorder in his native Finland.

While there’s no timetable for Timonen’s return, GM Ron Hetxall said the club views this as a “long-term” situation, suggesting the Flyers are prepared to start the season without the 39-year-old, and possibly play the entire campaign minus his services.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what Philadelphia faces moving forward.

What’s left

Philly’s new projected top-six defense is Mark Streit, Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald, Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn and former Edmonton/Minnesota/Columbus rearguard Nick Schultz, who was signed in free agency. Even with Timonen in the mix, the group wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring — without him, it’s a trouble area for sure as his impact on the club’s possession and shots-for/shots-against metrics were very impressive. You could also pencil him in for 20-22 minutes a night and 35-40 points a year.

Compounding things is Philly’s lack of solutions within the organization. The team has taken d-men with their first picks in consecutive drafts (Samuel Morin in ’13, Travis Sanheim this year), but neither has played a game of professional hockey and aren’t immediate solutions. Highly-touted college standout Shayne Gostisbehere is a little older (21) and a little more experienced, but still only has two games under his belt with AHL Adirondack.

Speaking of Adirondack/Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms present a few other options as well. RFA Brandon Manning’s been up with the Flyers on a few occasions, as has Olivier Lauridsen. Robert Hagg, a Swedish d-man taken in the second round in ’13, played 10 games for the Phantoms last year and could warrant a look too.

What’s out there

Given all the aforementioned names have such little big-league experience, it’s not surprising that Hextall wants to wade into the free agent and trade market:

Bringing someone aboard via either avenue will prove tricky. The Flyers are currently $3 million over the cap but will get LTIR relief from Chris Pronger ($4.9M) and, possibly Timonen ($2M) — which would give Hextall room to work with, albeit not that much. There have been rumblings about Philly having interest in ex-Rangers and Predators rearguard Michael Del Zotto, who could be a good gamble at a relatively low cost given his reputation is “in tatters,” according to the New York Post.

The rest of the available free agents are… well, uninspiring to be totally honest. Sami Salo, Henrik Tallinder, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Douglas Murray, Francis Bouillon and Shane O’Brien are a few of the names out there, but they’re out there for a reason.

In the end, this is a tough situation for both Timonen and the Flyers and there doesn’t appear to be a quality solution on the horizon. It’s the first real crisis moment in Hextall’s tenure as GM, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.

‘We’ve got to get that out of his game’: Trotz wants Ovechkin to cut down on slashing penalties

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As you may have noticed, the NHL is trying to crack down on players cheating on faceoffs and stick infractions.

The first week of the preseason has been nothing more than teams getting a good look at their power play units because players still aren’t used to the way officials are calling the game.

One of the players that has to adapt to the officiating is Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who took two slashing penalties against Montreal on Wednesday night.

“Too many slashing penalties,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “Ovi took two. We’ve got to get that out of his game.”

Like all players, it’s something the Capitals captain will have to get used to before the regular season begins. But let’s be honest, there’s a good chance that these officials won’t be as strict on the stick or face-off infractions as the regular season goes on.

Ovechkin isn’t the only star player that’s having an issue adapting to some of these stricter on-ice policies. Earlier in this week, Bruins forward Brad Marchand ripped the new face-off rule.

“This faceoff rule’s an absolute joke,” Marchand said. “That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play this year like that. That’s brutal.”

We’ll see if the league actually sticks to its guns here. If they do, how long will it take the players to adjust?

Housley focused on making Sabres ‘an aggressive team’

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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been a playoff team in quite some time, but the organization is hoping that their major offseason changes will help them take a few steps in the right direction.

One of those major changes came behind the bench, as the team hired Predators assistant Phil Housley to be their head coach.

Housley did some terrific work with defensemen like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban last season. A big part of Nashville’s attack came from defenders pushing the pace from the back.

“We want to be an aggressive team,” Housley said, per NHL.com. “I think everybody we’ve talked about playing aggressive offensively but we need to play aggressive defensively. I think defense gives you a chance to win every night and they’ll understand that we want to be fast and aggressive. The days are gone when a guy wants to make a breakout pass and the [defense] just watched the rush go up and play; they have to get up in the play not only to maybe join the rush and add to the attack, but to be in the offensive zone, being able to keep pucks in, or else you’re going to start playing defense.”

The Sabres could use an offensive boost from their defense (or anyone really). Last season, Jack Eichel collected 57 points in 61 games, which comes out to an impressive 0.934 points-per-game. But Unfortunately for the Sabres, no player topped 60 points in 2016-17.

Buffalo changed the look of their defense during the summer, as they acquired Nathan Beaulieu from Montreal and Marco Scandella from Minnesota. Both guys are capable of moving the puck, which should help Housley execute his plan.

Also, it’ll be interesting to see if Housley can take Rasmus Ristolainen‘s game to the next level. The 22-year-old has surpassed the 40-point mark in each of the last two seasons. He’s also served as the big-minute guy on the Sabres blue line.

“We’re here to learn from him and pick his brain, he was a [heck] of a player in his day,” defender Zach Bogosian said. “He gets the game. He’s played for a while, he’s coached for a while, he’s been around forever.

“Guys are looking forward to playing that style.”

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev