Author: Mike Halford

Germany v Austria - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

Report: Jets offer camp PTO to Raffl, older brother of Flyers’ Michael

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There’s probably a joke opportunity about Winnipeg trying to win the Raffl, but we’re not going to go there.

Instead, we’ll simply pass along word that, per Austrian news outlet Kurier, Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has received an offer to attend Jets training camp on a professional tryout.

Raffl, 29, was never drafted by an NHL club and has spent his entire career playing in Europe — he did, however, have a two-year stint playing Canadian junior hockey, with WHL clubs Kelowna and Swift Current.

Since then, he’s 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 (serving as team captain) at the World Hockey Championships.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the elder Raffl has good size — bigger than his brother, who’s listed at 6-foot, 190 — and there’s obvious hope he, like his brother, can be another diamond in the rough.

Philly brought over the younger Raffl in ’13-14 and he immediately contributed, with nine goals and 22 points in 68 games.

Last year Raffl scored 21 goals for the Flyers, fourth-most on the team.

Ex-‘Hawks goalie Raanta tees off on former club

Antti Raanta
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Former Chicago netminder Antti Raanta — traded to the Rangers at the draft after losing his backup gig to Scott Darling — was apparently none too pleased with how his time as a Blackhawk ended.

From Finnish news outlet Ilta-Sanomat:

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Despite posting relatively solid numbers over parts of two seasons with Chicago — 34-20-9, .912 save percentage, 2.41 GAA — Raanta fell out of favor with head coach Joel Quenneville last year, and was eventually supplanted by Darling, who briefly took over the No. 1 gig during the playoffs.

In that same Ilta-Sanomat interview, Raanta touched on his relationship with coach Q.

From Puck Daddy:

According to Raanta, Blackhawks were suffering of weak team spirit and head coach Joel Quenneville didn’t seem to like him. 

“I noticed that coach didn’t like me, in that position it is pretty difficult to fight the windmills,” Raanta said.

Last season, Raanta was demoted to AHL Rockford in February after allowing two goals on 16 shots in a loss to the Bruins, Chicago’s fifth loss in seven games on an eight-game homestand.

Darling was promoted, and the B’s game proved be Raanta’s last in a ‘Hawks uniform.

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Report: Devils captain Salvador to retire this week (Update: Official)

Bryce Salvador #24 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Islanders at the Prudential Center on September 19, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
(September 18, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)
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The 10th captain in New Jersey Devils history is about to hang up his skates.

From NorthJersey.com:

An answer on captain Bryce Salvador’s future is expected by the end of the week, though, with a retirement announcement appearing to be the likely conclusion.

“We’ll probably have some news later in the week on Bryce and we’ll kind of see what direction he is going,” Devils GM Ray Shero said today. “I don’t anticipate this will be a situation that’s ongoing for a lot longer one way or the other. I anticipate that relatively soon there will be some sort of information.”

UPDATE: Per an NHLPA release, Salvador has officially called it a career.

“I would like to thank my wife, April, for her unconditional and ongoing support, and love. I’m blessed and so thankful that my two sons, Pierson and Hudson, were able to see and remember me play as I thought my career was over when I missed the entire 2010-11 season due to injury,” Salvador said in a statement. “To my parents, and my extended family, as well as Bonnie and Gerald, thank you for all your love and support.

“I would like to thank the Lethbridge Hurricanes and GM Bob Bartlett, the St. Louis Blues and GM Larry Pleau, and the New Jersey Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello, for giving me the opportunities to play hockey. Thanks also to my teammates, the owners of each of these organizations, and to the fans for bringing excitement and energy to every game. I look forward to a continued involvement in hockey for years to come.”

Salvador, 39, appeared in just 15 games last year, missing extensive time with nerve damage and a bulging disc in his lower back. There was talk of him potentially returning to the team this fall in some capacity — possibly on a training camp PTO — but now he’s walking away from the game after a 14-year career.

It was, by all measures, a pretty solid run.

A sixth-round pick back in ’94, Salvador appeared in nearly 800 games with the Blues and Devils, and was a huge piece of New Jersey’s Stanley Cup run in 2012. Never known for his offense, Salvador scored 14 points in 24 games to finish second among all d-men in playoff scoring.

Following that run, the Devils signed Salvador to a fairly lucrative three-year, $9.5 million deal and, prior to the start of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, named him captain.

Salvador also addressed his retirement in a recent Players Tribune piece. You can read it here.

Kings, Kopitar ‘not even in the ballpark’ on new contract

Anze Kopitar
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Anze Kopitar is heading into the last year of his deal, and eligible to sign an extension at any time.

Just don’t expect that “any time” to be “anytime soon.”

From LA Kings Insider:

The Kings and Kopitar are are “not even in the ballpark” in their discussions, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi told LA Kings Insider over email when asked whether the two sides were “close” to reaching an agreement.

Kopitar, 28, is making $6.8 million annually on his current deal, which expires next July. Given his status as one of the NHL’s elite centers, it would stand to reason his camp’s initial ask is sky-high; he’s big, he’s strong, he’s won a pair of Stanley Cups, been a Selke finalist two years running, topped 60 points in each of the last two seasons and, for his career, has 60 points in 70 playoff games.

Bottom line? Kopitar is going to get paid.

The question is how much.

One would think the bar’s been set by Chicago’s Jonathan Toews who, starting next year, will pull down $10.5 million annually. Another comparable would be Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, who pulls in $9.5M per season.

The hangup, of course, is that Los Angeles might not have a ton of financial flexibility in the future. Dustin Brown’s deal, a $5.875M cap hit that runs through 2022, gets more onerous by the day and there’s still no clear picture if the termination of Mike Richards’ contract will hold up after the NHLPA’s grievance is heard.

Still, it’s hard — impossible even — to envision a scenario where Kopitar doesn’t get extended. Top-line centers are some of the most coveted entities in the NHL and, in a Western Conference featuring the likes of Toews, Ryan Getzlaf and Tyler Seguin, Kopitar carries immense value.

The real question now, it seems, is if the Kings and Kopitar can avoid the distraction of entering the season without a new deal in place.

Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls

Patrick Kane
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Could the Chicago Blackhawks move on from under-fire superstar Patrick Kane?

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the subject has been broached.

Per sources of ‘Hawks beat writer Mark Lazerus, the club has reportedly fielded speculative trade calls from more than five different teams, following news that Kane is under police investigation for allegedly raping a woman in Buffalo last month.

More:

At least five teams contacted the Hawks once the Buffalo News first reported the investigation — which involves Kane and a woman at his Hamburg home — and said they’d be willing trade partners should the Hawks decide to cut ties with their superstar winger, according to a league source.

The 26-year-old is entering the first year of a record-setting eight-year, $84-million contract.

So it appears there’s significant interest in Kane. Which leaves the second half of the equation — would Chicago really deal him?

Lazerus notes the organization is extremely image-conscious and that, per a team source, feels “disrespected” by Kane’s actions, especially given his past transgressions.

The club also reportedly wasn’t enamored with Kane’s comments at this year’s Stanley Cup parade, during which he said “I know you said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me the next week.”

Two different groups have already moved on from Kane.

EA Sports took him off the cover of its NHL ’16 video game, while Kane’s former OHL team — the London Knights — dropped the “Team Kane” moniker from its annual training camp routine.

Related: Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane?