James O'Brien

Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier
AP

Couturier, Raffl primed for Flyers opener; Gagner to be scratched?

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The Philadelphia Flyers’ roster is shaping up as the season approaches, and it sounds like Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl will be able to suit up.

That’s the word from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi, yet things get more interesting from there.

Perhaps it’s not that much of a shock, but Carchidi also believes that Sam Gagner will be watching Thursday’s season-opening contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning from the press box.

One other intriguing question: what about Scott Laughton? At the moment, it appears as if he’s sticking with the Flyers.

CSNPhilly.com points out that Laughton might make things a bit of a crowd at center, yet his gains might be too much to ignore.

“He’s consistently added a little bit of pace and he has battled hard,” Dave Hakstol said. “There’s little areas of the game where he has to complete some things. But his compete level is good.”

What alignment gives the Flyers the best chance to compete?

Regular season form: Sabres fans got sarcastic with Lehner

Robin Lehner, William Karlsson, Oliver Bjorkstrand
AP
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The nice thing about the Buffalo Sabres’ busy off-season is that the pressure is spread around pretty fairly … except maybe for Robin Lehner.

Big development gains can happen, of course, but the Sabres’ defense looks pretty shaky on paper.

Maybe they won’t be “historically inept” like last season, yet the smart money is on Lehner getting tested early and often. He’ll need to steel his nerves to the challenge.

Apparently he may also have to learn to shake off the abrasiveness of fans  during tougher nights.

Lehner had a tough night on Friday, to the point that fans reacted with mock praise of a save, aka “the Bronx cheer.”

To his credit, Lehner admitted that it wasn’t a strong performance, as he gave up five goals through two periods before Buffalo made the score more respectable.

(Columbus beat the Sabres 6-4 by ending with an empty-netter.)

If any management group believes in Lehner, it’s GM Tim Murray, who watched the netminder during his assistant general manager days in Ottawa.

That doesn’t mean that Sabres fans will give him the same welcome.

Devils give Kennedy the ax from PTO

Tyler Kennedy, Michael Ferland
AP
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Ray Shero’s familiarity with Tyler Kennedy from their Pittsburgh Penguins days only went so far, as the New Jersey Devils released him from his PTO on Friday.

Kennedy was with the Penguins from 2007-08 to 2012-13, yet he’s starting to become something of a journeyman.

(Although he probably feels more like a pinball.)

During his time in Pittsburgh, he sporadically put up nice possession stats, though one wonders how much that had to do with Jordan Staal.

It could be that he’s struggling to find a niche, as he might not be adept enough at any one facet of the game to really make himself marketable. His agent will once again have his work cut out for him.

At 29, one would think he’d get a shot somewhere, although Kennedy might have to accept more reps in the AHL than he would prefer.

Report: Voynov – KHL bound?

Slava Voynov
AP
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Slava Voynov might play professional hockey in 2015-16, just not in the NHL.

The self-departed former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is planning on playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to Sports Express’ Igor Eronko plus the Associated Press and ESPN.

Voynov announced his decision to leave the Kings for Russia back on Sept. 16, prompting the Kings to claim that he essentially would not have been welcomed back.

He served some jail time for domestic violence-related charges and was temporarily detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs.

His KHL rights belong to Traktor Chelyabinsk, but they will reportedly be transferred to SKA St. Petersburg. Every indication is that the Kings still hold his NHL rights, for whatever that may be worth.

Hey, Brian McGrattan’s still kicking/punching around

Brian McGrattan
AP
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Enforcers seem to be going the way of the dodo, but one hopes to become a Gull.

The San Diego Gulls added Brian McGrattan to their training camp roster on Friday, reminding us that he’s still attempting to maintain a hockey career.

It’s also an excuse to post this photo, which really must be shared in its full splendor:

Brian McGrattan
via AP

The Gulls are the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, so McGrattan is likely hoping he can make enough of an impression to get the occasional call-up for dust-ups.