Jason Brough

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 19: Roman Lyubimov #23 of Russia and Sinan Akdag #82 of Germany battle for the puck  at Ice Palace on May 19, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Russia defeated Germany 4-1. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)
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Flyers sign forward Lyubimov out of KHL

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The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Russian forward Roman Lyubimov to an entry-level contract.

It’s a one-year, two-way deal for the 24-year-old, according to CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Lyubimov has spent the past few seasons playing for CSKA Moscow (with Alexander Radulov) in the KHL. He had seven goals and seven assists in 52 games last season, then added four goals and four assists in 15 playoff games.

“He’s a role type of player,” GM Ron Hextall told reporters. “I don’t necessarily think he’s going to be on your first power play. He’s a hard worker, he goes to the net, he scores some dirty goals. He’s got good size and he skates well.”

Lyubimov also represented Russia at the world championship in May. He had four goals and four assists in 10 games.

Drunk-driving charges against O’Reilly dropped after witness fails to identify driver

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly (90) and New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) battle for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday Dec. 31, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y.  The Islanders won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
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From the London Free Press:

Buffalo Sabres star Ryan O’Reilly was found not guilty Monday of impaired driving after a crash into a Tim Hortons coffee shop north of London last summer.

The scheduled two-day trial of the 25-year-old NHLer ended following a court break shortly after the proceeding began in a London court, with the crown offering no further evidence than what had been heard.

Outside the courthouse, O’Reilly, of Bluewater, said he was happy to put the ordeal behind him and thanked the Buffalo Sabres hockey team for its support.

The case reportedly turned in O’Reilly’s favor when the Crown’s only identification witness could not identify the driver:

Related: O’Reilly’s impaired driving case pushed back, again

Habs to relocate AHL team to Montreal suburb of Laval

Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens
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The Montreal Canadiens are moving their farm team close to home. It was announced this morning that the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps will relocate to Laval, Quebec, for the 2017-18 season.

Laval is a suburb of Montreal. The team will play in a new arena called Place Bell.

“The relocation of our AHL affiliate in Laval will be beneficial in several ways, allowing for hockey management to follow the organization’s young prospects and provide players and coaching staff with a great environment, a state-of-the-art hockey venue and a new and enthusiastic fan base,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin in a release.

The Habs moved their AHL operation to St. John’s last year. They did so after the Winnipeg Jets ended their affiliation with the Newfoundland city in order to relocate their farm team home to Manitoba.

There has been an AHL team in St. John’s since 2011. The city was also home to the Maple Leafs’ affiliate from 1991-2005. It had a QMJHL franchise from 2005-2008.

“I can assure season ticket-holders, corporate partners and hockey fans throughout Newfoundland and Labrador we were fully aware and prepared for today’s announcement by the Canadiens and we have been actively seeking a new AHL partner and exploring options with other leagues for some time now,” said IceCaps president Danny Williams.

Opportunity is knocking for Blackhawks prospects

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 02: Ryan Hartman #38 of the Chicago Blackhawks shoots against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on November 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Andrew Shaw was traded. So was Teuvo Teravainen.

Andrew Ladd was lost to free agency. So was Dale Weise.

Tomas Fleischmann is still unsigned.

Add it up and that’s five of the 14 forwards who suited up for Chicago in the playoffs. They’ll need to be replaced somehow, and prospects Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, Tanner Kero, and Nick Schmaltz are all candidates to do it.

A first-round draft pick in 2013, Hartman had 35 points in 61 games last season for AHL Rockford. He also played three games for the ‘Hawks, and knows consistency will be the key to graduating full-time to the NHL.

“You can’t be a guy who comes in, has two or three games, and then takes a night off,” Hartman told CSN Chicago. “You have to bring it every night. That’s what it takes. There isn’t a guy who takes a night off who won’t be called down right away.”

Heading into 2015-16, the big question mark in Chicago was the blue line. Could a youngster like Trevor van Riemsdyk step up and fill the hole that Johnny Oduya left behind?

Ultimately, the answer was no, and the ‘Hawks went out in the first round. Brian Campbell was then signed in free agency, and management also has high expectations for Michal Kempny.

The defense addressed, now it’s the forward group that’s going under the microscope.

“Obviously with cap issues, stuff’s going to happen in the offseason,” said Hartman. “Nobody really knows what’s going to happen but it’s an opportunity now for me, especially, and some other guys to make a push, try to make the team this year.”

Related: ‘Hawks sign Jordin Tootoo — one year, $750,000

Still on the Canucks, Burrows is optimistic about next season

Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
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When the 2015-16 season drew to a close, the consensus was that Alex Burrows had played his last game for the Vancouver Canucks. Whether via trade or buyout, the 35-year-old winger was expected to move on from the only NHL team he’d ever played for.

But after all the talk, it never did happen. The Canucks only bought out Chris Higgins. They decided to keep Burrows, who has one year left on his contract.

He’s happy he’s still around.

“I still feel I can play,” Burrows told The Province newspaper. “My body is really healthy right now and I really don’t have any hip issues like I did in the past. I really feel if I can come to camp and earn a spot, I can be a good factor.”

The one thing that Burrows gives the Canucks is versatility. He can play up and down the lineup. He can be a net-front presence on the power play; he can kill penalties. He only had nine goals in 79 games last season, but he did finish fourth on the team with 135 shots, so perhaps there was some bad shooting luck involved.

The challenge for the veteran forward has been keeping up in a young man’s league. Last year, he couldn’t train a full summer because of a rib injury. This year, he can put in the work.

“Everything is focused on speed and agility,” he said. “Hopefully I can have quicker legs coming out of turns and stops and think the game better. You see all the young guys now, their speed is at such a high level. You try to get as close to them as possible.”