It’s Philadelphia Flyers day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT has been dedicating a day to each of the NHL’s 30 clubs. Today we wrap things up with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Philadelphia Flyers had high hopes going into the 2013 campaign, but they also had some major areas of concern, the biggest of which was starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. His Flyers debut season in 2011-12 was plagued by inconsistency and his low points were emphasized by a wide array of unusual statements he made to the public.

It raised questions as to whether he could he adapt to life in a big hockey market and all the added pressure that comes with it. The Flyers needed him to be a major part of the team’s success given the commitment they made and in the end, he wasn’t able to come close to living up to those expectations.

That problem was magnified because the Flyers didn’t have a backup goaltender they felt comfortable with for most of the season, forcing them to continue to use Bryzgalov despite his struggles and even after fatigue set in. It wasn’t until they acquired netminder Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Apr. 3 that Bryzgalov’s workload lightened.

Even still Bryzgalov or the Flyers’ goaltending in general weren’t their only problems. Philadelphia suffered through defensive issues and injuries plagued them. It all cumulated in them missing the playoffs for just the second time in seven seasons and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren referring to Ilya Bryzgalov‘s nine-year, $51 million deal as “a costly mistake.”

Offseason recap

The Flyers started the summer with some cap issues due to the falling ceiling. Fortunately the new CBA provided the Flyers with two compliance buyouts and they had an owner willing to exercise them on Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere’s contracts to free up a little over $12 million in annual cap space. They also let Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne walk as unrestricted free agents. Both of them are still unsigned and Knuble might retire at the age of 41.

Of course, Philadelphia did more than just get rid of contracts this summer. They added some major pieces and former captains in defenseman Mark Streit and forward Vincent Lecavalier. Those two signed sizable contracts that ate up most of their cap savings, but they were still able to address their goaltending needs by bringing back Ray Emery on an affordable one-year, $1.65 million contract.

As a result of their recent struggles, the Flyers had the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and they used it to select defenseman Samuel Morin.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.