Philadelphia Flyers

Sabres, Varone avoid arbitration with one-year, $600K deal

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Just over a week after filing for arbitration, Phil Varone has avoided the hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Sabres.

The contract is of the two-way variety.

Varone, 24, split last season between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate in Rochester, appearing in a career-high 28 NHL games while scoring five points. With the Amerks, he had 15 goals and 44 points in 55 games — and it was the AHL part of his contract that led to the original arbitration filing, per the Buffalo News:

Varone had a pro-rated NHL salary of $595,000 last season and made $62,500 in the AHL. The Sabres tendered him his NHL qualifying offer by last week’s deadline, which would push his NHL salary into the $655,000 range. He’s likely looking for a much bigger salary for the AHL portion of his deal, given the large minor-league salaries the Sabres handed out last week in free agency.

Buffalo will be paying former Utica Comets captain Cal O’Reilly $700,000 next season to play in the AHL, while defenseman Matt Donovan would make $400,000 with the Amerks, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti would make $300,000 and forward Jason Akeson would be at $250,000.

Varone will be in tough for minutes with Buffalo next season. The team will be dramatically different at center, with Ryan O’Reilly as the new No. 1 and both Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart looking to crack the roster and be full-time contributors.

GM Tim Murray also added some depth in veteran David Legwand, acquired from Ottawa in the Robin Lehner deal.

NHL releases arbitration dates

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Per the players’ union, a quick look at the players (and teams) that have elected arbitration, and what dates they’re scheduled for. Italicized names with asterisks means deals have already been reached, nullifying the need for a hearing.

PLAYER ELECTED FILINGS

Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker * (signed one-year, $3.75M deal)
Phil Samuelsson – July 21, 2015
Brendan Shinnimin- July 20, 2015

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone* (signed one-year, $600,000 deal)

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma – July 22, 2015
Paul Byron – July 30, 2015
Josh Jooris – July 28, 2015

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino – July 20, 2015
Mathew Clark – July 22, 2015

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist * (signed four-year, $19M deal)

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula – July 31, 2015

Nashville Predators
Craig Smith – July 20, 2015
Colin Wilson – July 28, 2015

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas – July 21, 2015
Adam Larsson – July 29, 2015

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan – July 27, 2015

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson – July 23, 2015
Mike Hoffman – July 30, 2015

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto – July 21, 2015

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi *  (signed one-year, $700,000 deal)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Taylor Beck – July 24, 2015

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby – July 23, 2015
Marcus Johansson – July 29, 2015

CLUB ELECTED FILINGS

Edmonton Oilers
Justin Schultz – July 24, 2015

Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier – July 31, 2015

Lecavalier: ‘I really just want to get my chance’

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Vincent Lecavalier never seemed to mesh with former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube, but will things work out any better for him under new bench boss Dave Hakstol?

Flyers GM Ron Hextall’s preference might be to never find out, but getting another team to take the final three seasons of his five-year, $22.5 million deal can’t be an easy task and retirement isn’t an option Lecavalier is willing to entertain. So while the possibility of a move certainly exists, both sides might ultimately have to make do with each other.

For Philadelphia, that means hoping Lecavalier will bounce back after scoring just eight goals and 20 points last season. For the 35-year-old forward, that means hoping he’ll get more ice time after being limited to an average of 12:38 minutes per game and even spending some time as a healthy scratch.

“I’m still in shape,” Lecavalier said, per NHL.com. “I really just want to get my chance. I am confident in my abilities and I move on.

“I kept a good attitude. You do not want to be a cancer in the room. You want to stay a good teammate, and that’s what I tried to do. A good bunch of guys, it makes things easier. It is the past. I want to be in shape in September and playing hockey, that’s it.”

The coaching change should provide him with a fresh start, but hurdles remain. He’s well past his prime now and has been plagued by injuries for years. The Flyers still have a lot of alternatives up the middle too, which might lead to Hakstol pushing Lecavalier to the right wing as Berube did.

Hakstol wants to withhold judgment until he can see his players’ training camp performances, per CSN Philly, so if nothing else it sounds like Lecavalier will get that chance he’s after.

Ex-B’s enforcer Robins retires: ‘No way I was ever going to risk getting hit in the head again’

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Bobby Robins’ colorful career has come to an end.

This week, the longtime AHLer — who made headlines this year for making the Bruins out of training camp at age 32 — announced his retirement, after missing nearly all of last season to a concussion suffered in his NHL debut.

Now recovered, Robins said the decision to walk away was easy.

“Hockey is what I know. It’s what I do. But after getting my head banged up like that, it was — no pun intended — a no-brainer for me,’” Robins said, per the Providence Journal. “I couldn’t do it anymore. After the lowest points that I experienced, to where I am now, where I feel like myself again, there was no way I was ever going to risk getting hit in the head again or going through that again.”

Robins, who also moonlit as a blogger during his professional career, suffered a concussion in this fight with Flyers d-man Luke Schenn:

He later admitted he played through a concussion without notifying trainers or medical staff of his condition.

“After that first game, looking back, obviously I should have said something and sat out, but I would have literally played through anything at that point,” Robins told the Journal. “I was almost in denial, thinking it would go away, and it never did.

“I’m pretty sure it happened in the fight with Schenn. I kind of felt like I got my bell rung or got dinged in the head — in my line of work it happens more often than not. That’s just kind of how I felt. I got right on the plane (after the game) and went to Detroit thinking it would go away in the morning, like it always had. Then that morning when I woke up in Detroit, it was still there. I was like, oh man, but I would have played right to the death.”

Robins, now 33, appeared in one more game after that Detroit tilt — a 4-0 loss to Washington in which he fought again, this time against Michael Latta — and was demoted to AHL Providence shortly thereafter. He appeared in a few games for Providence, then sat out entirely after facing Worcester on Oct. 18.

Robins spent most of his time away dealing with headaches and vision problems, but is now over those symptoms.

“I’m back to my old self, finally,” he said. “[Wife] Sam and [daughter] Libby are very happy to have their husband and dad back.”

Voracek’s agent begins extension talks with Flyers

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The Philadelphia Flyers need to agree to terms with restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto, but they’re otherwise pretty much set for training camp. That doesn’t mean the rest of the summer will be uneventful though.

Jakub Voracek is going into the final season of his four-year, $17 million contract and the Flyers might avoid the uncertainty that comes with that by re-signing him this summer. His agent Petr Svoboda has begun talks with the team, per CSN Philly.

The 25-year-old forward scored 22 goals and 81 points in 82 contests last season, so he’s in line for a big raise. He’s not much older than Vladimir Tarasenko, who signed a eight-year, $60 million deal on Tuesday. It’s not a perfect comparable because Tarasenko is more of a goal scorer while Voracek has more NHL experience. Voracek also has a better track record over the last three seasons with 189 points in 212 games compared to Tarasenko’s 135 points in 179 contests.

In fact, over the last three campaigns, Voracek ranks eighth in total points among players that are 28 years old or younger. Of those in the top-10, the only ones to re-sign within the last year were Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (ninth and 10th respectively), who inked matching eight-year, $84 million contracts. But of course, Kane and Toews are being paid for more than just their point production.

CSN Philly speculated that Voracek is probably looking at a five-year deal that comes with at least a $7 million annual cap hit and in this market, that would probably be seen as good value.