Flyers Notes: Boucher sees first NHL action of season

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Flyers Notes: Boucher sees first NHL action of season

TORONTO -- Brian Boucher would have liked very much to have started Tuesday night against the Jets as the Flyers' six-game road trip continues at The Peg.
 
“Absolutely,” Boucher said. “I played a bit down in Adirondack. So it’s been good. Any time you get to play with game sharpness, it certainly helps. It’s been a good thing for me.”
 
The plan changed, however, in the second period of Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Leafs when Boucher relieved Ilya Bryzgalov.
 
“You prepare for every game, but obviously that’s not what you envision,” Boucher said. “They kind of came at us in the second in the early going and capitalized. Unfortunately, that was the game.”
 
He gave a lone goal to ... fellow American James van Riemsdyk, on a nifty backhand move in the third period.
 
“It felt a little bit better than usual to get a goal like that in a game like that,” JVR said of the goal.
 
“The key part is to get a win. The team played well from top to bottom. I don't think I had one of my better games like I wanted to have.”
 
Van Riemsdyk said Boucher knows most of his moves. And Boucher?
 
“I thought I had a good read on it,” he said. “Maybe I moved a little too quick. I felt he was going five-hole and I pushed across a little too quick.
 
“I don’t know if he shanked it or meant to go back. But I was surprised. I felt he’d go five-hole and I had the five-hole covered.”
 
Boucher appeared in six games (2-4-0) with the Phantoms, posting a 2.71 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
 
He was called up on Sunday when Michael Leighton went on injured reserve with an injury to the ring finger on his stick hand.
 
His last regular season appearance in a Flyers jersey was April 9, 2011 in a 7-4 win over the Islanders. He entered the game in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky in the final game of the season and got a win.
 
That season, Boucher went 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage.
 
If he plays in The Peg, he knows the arena.
 
“I played in Winnipeg last year [with Carolina], one regular-season game and one preseason,” Boucher said. “It’s a tough place to play in. The crowd gets into it. Last year, they were pretty good at home. It would be a good challenge.”
 
Boucher said that coach Peter Laviolette has not told him whether he would play.
 
Shots
The Flyers' 46 shots on Monday were the most they’ve had since a 55-shot game at Winnipeg last Feb. 21 in a 5-4 overtime victory. The Flyers were 5-5-1 in games last season when they had 40 shots or more, and only two of the five wins came in regulation.

Also, the 22 shots on goal in the second period were the most in a period for the Flyers since they had 24 in the third period of a 6-4 loss against New Jersey on Feb. 4, 2012.

Loose pucks
Sean Couturier missed the game with the flu. His absence resulted in some line changes. Max Talbot moved between Tye McGinn and Mike Knuble, while Brayden Schenn centered Matt Read and Jakub Voracek. ... The Flyers mixed up their D-pairs in the first period, but only for a few shifts. Luke Schenn with Nick Grossmann; Grossmann and Bruno Gervais and Braydon Coburn with Kurtis Foster. ... Fans sit next to player benches in Toronto at each end. Bryzgalov had an ongoing conversation with an elderly man sitting next to him from the time he left the game in the second period to the period’s end. He even smiled for a few photos. ... Every skater on the Flyers' roster had at least one shot on goal. Every skater was also credited with at least one hit. ... The Flyers scored seven goals in one game on the road in Florida, but have just eight overall in their six road losses.

End to End: Analyzing Brayden Schenn's contract

End to End: Analyzing Brayden Schenn's contract

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

Is Brayden Schenn's contract a good deal for the Flyers?

Dougherty
It's understandable why some portion of Flyers fans have responded to Schenn's contract extension with caution; the $5.125 million is a bit high for what he's done consistently. But we live in a salary cap world in which the cap is not rising at the rate we would like.

We have to consider that when analyzing contracts. As Sportsnet's Colton Praill eloquently opined about bridge contracts back on July 13, we've seen teams get burnt by bad contracts. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks, who have had to move players to fit under the cap.

Part of surviving the cap world is making smart bets on players, and that requires breaking down what they have done already but more importantly, what you believe they'll do in the future. And Ron Hextall has done a decent job of that in his tenure as GM.

A perfect example of that is Sean Couturier's contract. It was a higher cap hit than his offensive production warranted at the time, but a deal we would look back on as a steal.

Now, Schenn's development is nearly complete. It's a different situation, but the same idea. If Schenn is a 26-goal, 59-point player, his $5.125 million AAV is fair.

If there's another level we haven't seen from the 24-year-old, then this is a totally different conversation in a few years.

In the end, the Flyers are betting on Schenn being the player he was from Jan. 1, 2016, through the end of the season, and living in the cap world, it's a smart play.

Hall
The Flyers were going to re-sign Brayden Schenn, through an arbitrator or not.

And when it was all said and done, no matter if the average annual value was slightly lower or higher than the $5.125 million of Schenn’s new four-year contract, the Flyers were still going to be handcuffed by the cap.

So the Flyers avoided what can be a messy arbitration process by finding a happy medium with a strategic deal that behooves the Flyers long term, as Ron Hextall explained.

Now they have longer team control over Schenn, who could have signed for fewer years, upped his game and ballooned his payday as an unrestricted free agent.

Like Hextall said, top-six forwards entering their prime "are hard to find."

Yeah, the Flyers probably overpaid just a bit, but that’s the NHL market — it’s far from perfect.

Paone
There’s a reason these kinds of things are categorized as negotiations. There’s give and take involved. In the case of Brayden Schenn’s contract, there was probably a little more give than Ron Hextall and the Flyers would have liked. The numbers reported over the weekend tell us the Flyers didn’t necessarily want to go over the $5 million per year threshold with Schenn, even though the 24-year-old forward is coming off a career year of 26 goals and 33 assists.

But just because the Flyers went over their projected budget by going a smidge over $5 million doesn’t mean this is a terrible deal for the team. Not by any means. By now, you’ve probably read or heard Hextall use the term “market deal” when describing this contract. And that’s accurate because that’s the way the NHL is going these days. Yes, Schenn has had inconsistency issues over his first five seasons in Philadelphia. But young scorers don’t grow on trees. You have to pay to keep the ones you have. New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider and St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz are just a few examples. Schenn is just the latest. There will be more young scorers out there, flaws be damned, who will get paid sooner rather than later.

Sure, Schenn picked a great time last year — a contract year — to have a career season. And that pushed the Flyers to reward him. Now, it’s up to him to reward the Flyers’ faith.

NHL Notes: Red Wings sign Danny DeKeyser to 6-year contract

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NHL Notes: Red Wings sign Danny DeKeyser to 6-year contract

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have avoided arbitration and signed defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a $30 million, six-year contract.

DeKeyser will count $5 million against the salary cap throughout the length of the deal. Agent Don Meehan confirmed the terms of the contract Tuesday, including modified no-trade protection beginning in the 2017-18 season.

The restricted free agent and the club were scheduled to have their arbitration hearing on Thursday in Toronto.

Instead, the 26-year-old has a long-term deal. The Western Michigan product has 14 goals and 61 assists in 234 regular-season NHL games and has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time.

Rangers: Zborovskiy inked to entry-level contract
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy on an entry-level contract.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the signing of the team's third-round draft pick in 2015 on Tuesday.

Zborovskiy skated in 64 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this past season, collecting eight goals and 17 assists along with a plus-15 rating. The 19-year-old established WHL career-highs in goals, assists, points, and power play goals (two), and he tied his WHL career-high in plus/minus rating.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder skated in 12 playoff games and had five assists this past season.

Zborovskiy has skated in 135 career WHL games over two seasons with Regina, registering 11 goals and 33 assists.

Flyers, RFA Brandon Manning agree to 2-year deal

Flyers, RFA Brandon Manning agree to 2-year deal

Ron Hextall has finished taking care of his own.

The Flyers on Tuesday morning agreed to a multi-year contract with restricted free agent defenseman Brandon Manning, avoiding an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 2. The deal is worth two years, $1.95 million, a source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported the figures.

On Monday, the Flyers re-upped Brayden Schenn, their other remaining RFA.

With Manning's $975,000 average annual value, the Flyers now have about $1.04 million in salary cap space, according to generalfanager.com. Last season, Manning made $625,000.

The 26-year-old is coming off his first full NHL season in which he totaled seven points (one goal, six assists) in 56 regular-season games while also appearing in all six of the Flyers’ playoff contests.

After playing just 10 games over January and February, Manning, a lefty shot, gelled with the righty-shooting Radko Gudas to form the Flyers’ third and final defensive pairing the rest of the way. Gudas, who was a pending restricted free agent, re-signed with the Flyers on June 23.

“When you start playing every night, you get comfortable and you start getting that confidence,” Manning said at his end-of-the-season press conference in late April. “It kind of took off from there."

Flyers general manager Hextall liked what he saw down the stretch from his youth, including Manning.

“The younger guys like Brayden showed growth this year, [Sean Couturier] showed growth this year, Manning, [Scott] Laughton at times,” Hextall said after the Flyers’ first-round playoff exit to the top-seeded Capitals. “Obviously [Nick] Cousins, so we showed a lot of growth, but we need to continue to grow in that group.”

Once again, competition will be prevalent on the Flyers’ blue line come training camp in September. The team currently holds seven defensemen in Michael Del Zotto, Shayne Gostisbehere, Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Manning, Nick Schultz and Mark Streit.

Of course, there’s topflight prospect Ivan Provorov, who will legitimately push for a roster spot at 19 years old, as well as fellow prospects Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin, who could be in the mix at some point this season. The Flyers also signed T.J. Brennan, a 27-year-old with NHL experience, to a two-way contract this summer.

Manning, who joined the Flyers’ organization in November 2010 as a free-agent signing, says he’s accustomed to fighting for a job.

"I mean, it's been the same thing for me the last five years,” Manning said in late April. “You just play as hard as you can. It's been like that for me all along. It doesn't matter who's making the most money or which prospects are coming, you just worry about yourself and come in and play the best and it usually works out for yourself.

“The Flyers have been good to me. [Hextall] has been a straight shooter over the few years he's been running the show here. I'm definitely happy here and the way things have been going with [head coach Dave Hakstol]. Everything moving forward, it's going to be a good time to be a Flyer.”