Author: Mike Halford

Montreal Canadiens v Philadelphia Flyers

You can welcome Luke Schenn to the trade rumor mill, too


Tough times for the Brothers Schenn in Philly.

Yesterday, we welcomed the younger of the two, Brayden, to the trade rumor mill after lukewarm preseason review from GM Ron Hextall.

Today, it’s Luke’s turn.

Per, Schenn is considered “a strong candidate to be traded” prior to Philly’s season opener on Oct. 8, with Hextall admitting he’s been both making and fielding trade discussions.

“Guys call and I call and you end up seeing what works out,” Hextall said. “You’re always looking to better your team.”

In the cases of both Schenns, trades make plenty of sense.

Brayden has spent all of the preseason on a “fifth” forward line with AHLers Scott Laughton and Chris Porter. Last month, Hextall shot down the idea of extending Brayden — who is heading into the final year of his deal, and will go restricted in July — and the Flyers do have a glut of forwards, with 17 on the active roster.

As for Luke?

He, too, is stuck at a crowded position (while making $3.5M on a team that’s pressed right up against the salary cap ceiling.)

Luke is one of eight Flyers d-men on one-way NHL contractsMark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz, Evgeni Medvedev, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning are the others — with prospects Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg still in the mix.

What’s more, there could be a market for his services.

One wonders if Boston would be interested, given the B’s will be without veteran d-man Dennis Seidenberg (back) for eight weeks, and lost captain Zdeno Chara to an unspecified upper-body ailment on Thursday evening.

Team Europe meets, discusses complexities ahead of World Cup


Of all the teams set to compete in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Team Europe — comprised of players not from Sweden, Finland, Russia or the Czech Republic — is the one most likely to have logistical issues.

On Thursday, it took a step towards figuring them out.

A group of prominent officials met during the IIHF’s semi-annual congress to share information about the squad’s makeup. Included were Team Europe’s staff — president Franz Reindl, GM Miroslav Satan, head coach Ralph Krueger — along with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, and the NHLPA’s Rob Zaumner.

The challenges that lie ahead are tough.

Where as the other amalgamated team, the North American Youngstars, will be made up of just Canadian and U.S. players, Reindl said earlier this month Team Europe will be chosen from “12 to 14” countries (delegates from some of these countries were on hand on Thursday.)

More, from the IIHF:

Last season European representation in the NHL from these potential countries was led by Slovakia (13 players), Switzerland (13), Germany (10) and Denmark (8). Austria had three players; Belarus, France and Latvia had two players each, and one player came from each of the following countries: Croatia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovenia.

Add Italy and Ukraine, with three players signed by NHL teams last season but who only played with farm teams, and you have 14 European countries with a total number of 57 NHL players last season that may be called to Team Europe.

Last week, projected 23-man roster with the following geographical breakdown:

Slovakia (6): Tomas Tatar, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, Andrej Sekera, Jaroslav Halak

Switzerland (5): Nino Niederreiter, Roman Josi, Luca Sbisa, Mark Streit, Jonas Hiller

Denmark (4): Frederik Andersen, Mikkel Boedker, Lars Eller, Frans Nielsen

Germany (3): Leon Draisaitl, Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg

Austrian (2): Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner

Norway (1): Mats Zuccarello

Slovenia (1): Anze Kopitar

Latvia (1): Zemgus Girgensons

All told, that’s eight different nations falling under the same banner. That number could get as high as 10 if the likes of the Islanders’ Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus) and Dallas’ Antoine Roussel (France) work their way into the mix, so it’s easy to see why meetings like today’s are important.

Welcome Brayden Schenn to the trade rumor mill

Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers

Sure doesn’t sound like Brayden Schenn‘s in Philadelphia’s long-term plans.

From the Courier-Post:

“Brayden’s been OK,” [Flyers GM Ron] Hextall said. “It’s training camp. It’s early. … I think we all know where he is and what is and that he prefers to play the right side. We’ll see where it goes.”

With 17 forwards in camp — Colin McDonald and Nick Cousins are still around too — the Flyers may have to find new homes for some players. With a $2.5 million salary cap hit and in the last year of his contract, it would appear Schenn is a trade candidate.

Schenn has spent all of the preseason on a “fifth line” with AHLers Scott Laughton and Chris Porter, a trio the Courier-Post said “may not be a real consideration for the NHL roster.”

And when it comes to compiling an NHL roster, the Flyers have moved swiftly this preseason — and with purpose. Line combos were set early and the club has rapidly trimmed away; over the last few days, Philly went from 62 to 29 players.

(Technically that number currently sits at 35 but, per the Courier-Post, five players — Chris Conner, Tim Brent, Aaron Palushaj, Davis Drewiske and Jason LaBarbera — will be waived on Friday and a sixth, Swiss d-man signing Christian Marti, will open the year on the injured list.)

In short, Hextall and new head coach Dave Hakstol have wasted little time in getting the team sorted out.

All of which brings us back to Schenn.

Even though he’s only 24 and coming off a career-high 47 points, there seems to be some trepidation from the Flyers about locking him into their long-term plans. Most of that, it seems, has to do with the fact nobody can figure out where Schenn should play; he’s worked as a center, left and right winger at times, but nothing seems to have “clicked.”

In August, eyebrows were raised when Hextall said there were no plans to extend Schenn.

“I’ve spoken with Brayden’s agent a number of times over the summer about different things and the subject’s never come up,” Hextall said, per “It’s not something we’re in a hurry to do and I’m assuming they feel the same way.”

Hextall has been methodical in locking up several of the club’s talented forwards — Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek most recently — so the fact Schenn remains without an extension is telling.

Stay tuned.

Report: KHL club monitoring Khokhlachev situation in Boston (Updated)

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins

A new wrinkle in the Alexander Khokhlachev-Bruins saga.

Just a few days after Khokhlachev said Boston “should make a decision with me” and “give me a chance,” reports out of Russia say KHL powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg is keeping an eye on the talented center.

Per Russian news agency TASS, SKA — which acquired Khokhlachev’s rights this summer — is “closely following” the situation, with KHL board of directors member Roman Rotenberg reportedly saying a return to Russia is “possible.”

Khokhlachev, 22, was the 40th overall pick in 2011 and has proven to be a quality scorer at the AHL level, notching 100 points in 126 games with Providence over the last two years. “Koko” has only seen limited time with the Bruins, however — four games — and appears frustrated at his inability to secure a full-time spot at the NHL level.

“I’ve been waiting two years so [the Bruins] should make a decision: give me a chance [in the NHL] or…I don’t know,” he said recently, per CSNNE. “We’ll see what they do. I’m not a young guy anymore. I’m 22 already.

“If they don’t give me a chance to play while I’m here…I won’t play in Providence all of my life. I’m still waiting for [my chance].”

Khokhlachev has one year left on his entry-level contract, and is in tough to crack the B’s roster out of camp (he’s also waiver exempt, so they can send him to Providence without losing him.)

He’d presumably need to beat out either veteran Chris Kelly or first-year Finnish signing Joonas Kemppainen for a spot at center, though the Bruins could toy with the idea of moving Khokhlachev to the wing.

Updated: CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty spoke with Khokhlachev’s agent, Alexei Dementiev.

“At the present time Alexander Khokhlachev is at the Boston Bruins training camp, has one more year [on his] NHL deal and does his best to be the Bruin,” he said. “In this circumstance we can’t and we don’t talk to SKA St. Petersburg, the KHL team, who has his rights in Russia.

“Regarding Alexander’s interview several days ago, all I can say that we really want hockey people to hear how much he wants to be an NHL player and nothing about complaints or other innuendo — just a simple statement of facts.”

Ahead of schedule: Lehtera (ankle) ready to return to Blues practice

Jori Lehtera

Looks like Jori Lehtera‘s surgically-repaired ankle is doing well.

Lehtera, who went under the knife on Aug. 4, is set to return full team practice in St. Louis tomorrow, the team announced on Thursday. The announcement comes after the club initially said Lehtera would need 6-8 weeks of recovery time before he started skating, let alone get back to practice.

It’s a good development for the Blues.

Lehtera, 27, is coming off a very good first year in St. Louis — he scored 14 goals and 44 points in 75 games, earning a nice three-year, $14.1 million extension in July.

 It’ll be interesting to see where Lehtera fits in the lineup this year, though. He spent most of last season centering Vladimir Tarasenko, but Tarasenko opened camp with Paul Stastny as his new center, and the pair looked dangerous together in St. Louis’ preseason opener against Columbus.