Jason Akeson

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.

Flyers recall Jason Akeson


Forward Jason Akeson has been recalled from the American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms the Flyers announced Saturday.

Akeson started the 2014-15 season with the Flyers registering six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating while averaging 7:37 in ice time in 12 games.

The 24-year-old appeared in 19 games with the Phantoms scoring eight goals and 17 points to go along with a minus-1 rating.

In 14 career NHL games, all with the Flyers, Akeson has a goal and an assist to go along with six penalty minutes.

The Flyers visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight for the first of three meetings this season.

Flyers waive Akeson


The Flyers put forward Jason Akeson on waivers Thursday.

Akeson, 24, has spent his entire professional career with the Flyers organization since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2011. A dynamic scorer with OHL Kitchener — he had 108 points one year on a team that featured Gabriel Landeskog — Akeson has been a quality scorer at the AHL level, scoring 24 goals and 64 points with Adirondack last season.

In 12 games this year with the Flyers he has no points, with a minus-1 rating and six PIM. His last game came two weeks ago in a 6-3 loss to Montreal.


Schenn moves to center in Philadelphia


The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t the only team with issues at center.

With captain and top center Claude Giroux sidelined for two weeks with a lower body injury, the Philadelphia Flyers have moved forward Brayden Schenn from the wing to the middle on the team’s top line.

“I’ve got to be ready for whatever is thrown at me,” Schenn told CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio. “I’m a versatile guy who can play center or wing and I feel comfortable at both. I’ve had enough reps and games at left wing and I’ve played center my whole career.”

Additionally, forward Michael Raffl has moved up to the team’s top line at training camp.

As coach Craig Berube’s line juggling continued, R.J. Umberger moved to left wing on Vincent Lecavalier’s unit with Jason Akeson.

“I got to look at Akeson with Lecavalier which is always of interest to me to see because (Akeson) passes the puck well and Vinny is a finisher,” Berube said. “It’s good that Schenner gets reps in the middle, too, because there’s a good chance he’ll play center at some point.”

Schenn is no stranger to playing the center ice position; he spent parts of last season in the middle when he wasn’t playing alongside Lecavalier, but linemate Jakub Voracek  knows there’s no replacing Giroux.

“They are different players,” Voracek said. “Schenner is a power forward and G (Giroux) is a guy who makes everything happen on the ice. Schenner is a smart kid. He sees the ice well, he has a great shot and he understands the players he is with.

“We’ve just got to click. I don’t know how the lineup is going to be for the next, few games or on opening night. But we’re professionals and we have to find a way.”

Training camp and preseason are a time for coaches to juggle, mix-and-match and see what he has in terms of chemistry. Schenn certainly isn’t going to be the team’s top line center when Giroux returns, but should the Flyers be in a situation, which requires line juggling down the road, Berube will know how Schenn fits in on the top line.

Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center


Vincent Lecavalier could still end up playing the wing for the Philadelphia Flyers, but he’ll start the season at his natural position of center.

And the 34-year-old sounds pretty darn happy about it.

From CSN Philly:

When the club’s main training camp opens Friday morning on the ice, Lecavalier will be at center, not wing, [coach Craig] Berube said.

How long he stays there is unknown, but Berube did say recently, “He’ll start the season at center.”

When Lecavalier heard that through a reporter, you could see relief come across his face.

“That is significantly good to hear,” he said. “I am more comfortable in the middle. …”

Of course, that begs the question — which players will Lecavalier line up between?

Flyers beat writer Randy Miller (NJ.com) expects Lecavalier to be the “third-line center” with R.J. Umberger on the left side and either Michael Raffl or Jason Akeson on the right.

The top two lines, according to Miller, would look like this:

Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds

Whatever the combinations end up, Lecavalier sounds like he just wants to put last season behind him.

“You have to move on,” he said. “And I believe in this team.”

Related: Lecavalier believes he can be better after ‘tough year’