Ryan Dadoun

Umberger expects Flyers to buy him out

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That Scott Hartnell trade certainly didn’t work out like the Philadelphia Flyers wanted and R.J. Umberger is well aware of that.

Just two years after the Flyers acquired Umberger and a fourth round pick (Austin Wagner) from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exhange for Hartnell, Umberger now believes Philadelphia will buy him out.

“I expect one,” he told CSN Philly. “Who wouldn’t after my season? That’s something up to them, their decision. Business side of it, you can’t control that.”

Umberger was limited to just 15 points in 67 contests in 2014-15, but injuries were a factor. He was very optimistic coming into this season, asserting that he felt “like a different person”, but in the end he scored just two goals and 11 points in 39 contests. He was frequently listed as a healthy scratch and wasn’t used at all in the playoffs.

Umberger comes with a $4.6 million annual cap hit, but the 2016-17 campaign is the last season of his contract. Buying him out would save the Flyers $3 million in cap space next season, but cost them $1.5 million in 2017-18, per General Fanager.

This is the 33-year-old forward’s second stint with the Flyers as they were also the team he debuted with back in 2005. Philadelphia originally dealt him to Columbus in 2008 along with a 2008 fourth round pick (Drew Olson) in order to get a 2008 first round pick (Luca Sbisa) and third rounder (Marc-Andre Bourdon). From there Umberger reached the 20-goal milestone in four straight campaigns, but he hasn’t managed to hit that mark since 2011-12.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL 17 cover vote is underway

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Who do you think should be on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 17? The voting for Round 1 is now open. (NHL.com)

The teams have taken to campaigning for their players on Twitter too. Though it means not giving equal time to each candidate, here is nevertheless a sampling:

Washington has a lengthy playoff history with Pittsburgh and much of it has been bad for the Capitals. Thom Loverro believes that beating the Penguins now would “go a long way to changing the culture of the expectation of loss.” (Washington Times).

Though the Florida Panthers weren’t able to make it past the first round, they are optimistic about their future. (Panthers’ Official Website)

The Islanders have gotten exactly what they were hoping for when they drafted John Tavares in 2009. (Washington Times)

Speaking of the 2009 draft, Victor Hedman was taken with the second overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now the two are on opposite sides of the upcoming second round series. (Newsday)

Here are some interesting numbers from the Chicago Blackhawks’ brief, but eventful, 2016 playoff run. (CSN Chicago)

Video: Rangers, Penguins combine for three goals in under two minutes

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The first period of Sunday’s matinee between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers certainly wasn’t lacking in highlights, but the most eventful stretch came right in the middle of the frame.

In the span of less than two minutes, Pittsburgh and New York combined for three goals. The Rangers already had a 1-0 lead going into that stretch when Phil Kessel executed a great feed to Carl Hagelin for the Penguins’ first marker. Dominic Moore quickly regained the lead for New York, but just over a minute later Kessel fired a rocket of a shot off the rush to beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

You can see all three of those markers here:

With a goal and an assist already today, Kessel has six points in five contests this year. It also gives him 27 points in 27 career postseason games.

In terms of offensive production during the regular season, Kessel didn’t live up to the high expectations thrust upon him when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired him from Toronto. However if he keeps making plays like these in the playoffs then whatever he did in the regular season will seem secondary.

The score remained tied for the rest of the first period, but the Penguins broke out in the second frame with goals from Bryan Rust, Matt Cullen, and Conor Sheary.

Laughton will skate on Monday, might play if there’s a Game 7

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It was a scary scene Wednesday night when Flyers forward Scott Laughton crashed into the end boards and had to be taken out of the game on a stretcher. Fortunately, the news about him has been encouraging since that event.

After being released from the hospital on Thursday, Laughton is planning on skating Monday, per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.

What’s more, Laughton might even play in Game 7, provided that the Flyers make such a contest necessary by beating the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia has already battled back from a 3-0 series deficit thanks in no small part to the efforts of goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

This is the 21-year-old Laughton’s first postseason series after scoring seven goals and 21 points in 71 contests with the Flyers during the 2015-16 campaign.

Rangers get Girardi back, scratch Boyle

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With their season hanging in the balance, the New York Rangers have shaken up their defensive pairings for Game 5 this afternoon thanks to the return of Dan Girardi from an undisclosed injury.

Girardi hasn’t played since Game 1 due to the injury, but he’s projected to skate alongside Brady Skjei. To make room on the roster, 39-year-old blueliner Dan Boyle has been scratched. Boyle has averaged 19:35 minutes per game so far in the series.

New York’s other two defensive pairings are projected to be Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein as well as Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh. Raphael Diaz is also on the roster as a seventh defenseman and might play a significant role with the man advantage.

The Rangers need to bounce back after being outscored 8-1 in their past two games. Solving Penguins goalie Matt Murray will obviously be a top priority, but the Rangers will also need to contain the Pittsburgh’s potent offense in a way that they haven’t been able to for much of this series.