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Crosby, Stamkos lead pack in NHL 15 player rankings


EA Sports has unveiled its top 50 player rankings for NHL 15 and this time it wasn’t even close: Sidney Crosby had a 96 rating, which was three points higher than his closest competition.

That’s a stark change from NHL 14 when Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk were tied at 95. Datsyuk, who was limited to 45 games in 2013-14, dropped to sixth on the list and now has a 93 rating.

After Crosby, the top five are Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin, and Shea Weber.

Zdeno Chara was rated as the top defenseman a year ago, but the 37-year-old has slipped from a 94 rating to 91 and now ranks 20th overall. Weber also pulled away from his former teammate Ryan Suter. The Minnesota Wild defenseman retained his 92 rating, but dropped from ninth on the list in 2013-14 (just one rank below Weber’s position last season) to 15th this time around.

At seventh overall, the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist is the top goaltender on the list, although the Kings’ Jonathan Quick was slotted just below him.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the only team with two players on the top-10 list was Anaheim as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry took the ninth and 10th spots respectively.

You can view the full list here. NHL 15 is scheduled to come out on Sept. 9.

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.