Flyers-Rangers: What you need to know

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Flyers-Rangers: What you need to know

Flyers at Rangers – 7:30 p.m., CSN
Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

Records
Flyers: 11-11-1 (Third in Atlantic Division, Eighth in Eastern Conference)

Rangers: 10-8-2 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, Ninth in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
In the last matchup between these two division rivals, Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves but it wasn’t enough in the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Jan. 29. Kimmo Timonen tallied the Flyers’ lone marker and Danny Briere fired 10 shots on Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 26 shots. Michael Del Zotto and Ryan Callahan each scored for New York.

Tuesday will mark the third of five meetings between these two clubs this season. The Flyers and Rangers have split the first two contests, each by a score of 2-1.

Previous games
Led by the strong play of Bryzgalov in net, the Flyers came away with a scrappy 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Bryzgalov earned his 11th victory of the year after turning aside 33 Ottawa shots on goal. Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek each recorded their ninth goals of the season to help the Flyers finally reach the .500 mark.

Rick Nash had a goal and assist and also scored in the shootout to help the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Lundqvist made 28 saves and Derek Stephen tallied the Rangers’ other goal in regulation. The win was the second in a row for New York, which sits one point behind the Flyers with three games in hand for the final playoff spot in the East.

Who's hot
Ever since unveiling his Star Wars-themed mask two games ago, the force has been strong in Bryzgalov. The Flyers’ netminder has stopped 56 of 58 shots in those contests -- both victories. He has started all but two games for the orange and black this season, going 11-9-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

For the Rangers, Nash has proved to be the key to New York’s success. In his first 16 games with the Blueshirts, he has collected five goals and 11 assists -- including two tallies and two helpers in his past two contests. Nash suffered an undisclosed injury and missed four games a few weeks ago and the Rangers went 0-3-1 without him.

Who's not
Before recording an assist in Saturday’s win over the Sens, Ruslan Fedotenko failed to register a point in his previous seven games. The veteran forward has just one goal, six assists and 16 shots on net in 23 games with the Flyers this season.

Brad Richards is off to a poor start for New York. The Rangers’ first-line center has tallied just two goals and 13 points through the first 20 games of the season.

Keep an eye on ...
New York’s big three of Marian Gaborik, Nash and Richards have not been much of a factor against the Flyers. The orange and black have limited the three stars to just two assists in their first two meetings versus the Rangers this season.

Voracek has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers so far this year. He is leading the club with 25 points in 23 games and has collected six goals and 11 assists over his past 10 games. He also has a goal and an assist against the Blueshirts this season.

Lundqvist has put up some eye-popping stats against the Flyers in his career. The Rangers’ netminder is 23-11-3 with four shutouts, a .914 save percentage and a 2.54 goals-against average in 39 starts versus the Flyers.

No Harry Zolnierczyk in this game. The Flyers forward was suspended four games for charging Ottawa’s Mike Lundin on Saturday. Lundin, who is concussed, left the game and did not return. Mike Knuble is expected to fill Zolnierczyk’s void in the Flyers’ lineup.

Did you know?
The Flyers are 1-8 in their last nine games against the Rangers and have lost five straight at Madison Square Garden.

Injuries
Flyers: Matt Read (torn rib cage muscles), Tye McGinn (right orbital surgery), Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) are all on injured reserve and remain sidelined.

Rangers: According to the New York Daily News, Brad Richards (undisclosed injury) will likely be out of New York's lineup against the Flyers. The 32-year-old center was hit from behind by Buffalo's Patrik Kaleta on Sunday. Richards stayed on the ice for a few minutes but would later return to the game. Kaleta, who was given a boarding penalty on the play, was suspended five games by the NHL for the hit. 

Matt Gilroy (flu) and former Flyer Arron Asham (back spasms) are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers.

Michael Sauer is on injured reserve with concussion-like symptoms and is out indefinitely.

Sound off
After their matchup with the Rangers, the Flyers will have completed 50 percent of their schedule. How many games do you think they will win in the second half of this lockout-shortened season?

Flyers add much-needed depth at forward with Weise, Gordon signings

Flyers add much-needed depth at forward with Weise, Gordon signings

VOORHEES, N.J. – He didn’t get a scorer or even a notable upgrade in scoring.

What Ron Hextall did get, however, Friday as free agency opened in the NHL, were two depth forwards.
 
It won’t do much to help a club that finished 22nd overall in goal production (211), but there was some value in the signings.
 
Dale Weise will replace Ryan White while Boyd Gordon will lessen Claude Giroux’s responsibilities on the penalty kill, in terms of faceoffs and ice time.
 
“Dale adds size, speed and some grit and has good hands,” the Flyers general manager said. “He can score some goals.
 
“We didn’t have the [cap] space to add a top scorer, so we went with depth scoring guys to our top nine. Boyd is more of a role player. Versatile, can play the center or wing. A good penalty killer.”
 
Hextall said if Gordon, who averaged 2:48 PK time with Arizona, can keep Giroux off the ice for defensive draws and such, it will keep the Flyers’ captain fresher and offer a payback offensively. Gordon won 58 percent of his draws in Arizona.
 
“It’s going to help on the offensive end of the ice for Giroux,” Hextall said. “It’s one of those little things that played into our decision.”
 
Weise, who signed a four-year, $9.4 million contract, is a lot like White in terms of tenacity and playing with an edge. He’s played 152 games with both Vancouver and Montreal, but comes here via Chicago.
 
The 27-year-old became White’s replacement when the Flyers failed to come to terms with his agent, Craig Oster, on Friday morning.
 
“We’re gonna move on,” Hextall said. “We took a last run at him this morning. Whitey was a good player for us. We couldn’t find common ground.”
 
Gordon, 32, who is coming to his fifth team, as well, signed a one-year deal worth $950,000. 
 
“It’s the little things when you are trying to win games and the margin of error is so tight,” Hextall said. “It’s hard to score goals. It’s the little things you do that help you win games.
 
“We feel like Boyd is a real character guy, blocks shots, faceoffs, killing penalties and plays hard every night.”
 
Going into free agency, Hextall said his priority was to add some goals via a top-nine player. Neither of these players will add 20 goals combined.
 
“It’s depth,” Hextall said. “We added a guy we feel upgrades one of our lines. That’s important. Dale is capable of scoring goals. He can help chip in and, hopefully, we get more scoring from our top nine.
 
“We would have loved to add a scorer to our top six, but it just wasn’t there. So we’ll go with what we’ve got. We feel comfortable with what we’ve got. We’ve got flexibility with the cap, and we’ve got multiple call-ups if we decided to go that way once the season starts.”
 
Hextall said he’ll monitor free agency for the next two weeks to see if a player drops down into a more reasonable cap fit price.
 
“We’ll monitor the market,” he said. “If something pops up and makes sense, we’ll take a look at it ... We’re probably done.”
 
Hextall still has to re-sign Brayden Schenn plus leave some money left over for the possibility of both Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny making the roster out of training camp.
 
“We’ll start working on that fairly quickly and you know it will get done,” Hextall said of Schenn’s new contract, which should pay him close to $5 million a year.
 
Provorov and Konecny are “ifs” right now.
 
“I don’t know how any of that is going to play out,” Hextall said. “Kids come in and sometimes, if kids make the team, you have to find ways to manipulate your roster … Those are things that will play out at camp.”
 
Hextall has been trying since before the draft to orchestrate a trade or two to gain more cap space. Mark Streit and Matt Read are likely candidates.
 
“If you add the cap space, you’ve got to fill it prudently,” Hextall said. “So just to have it doesn’t do you a lot of good. Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom.
 
“We certainly would have looked a little bit harder today if we had some freedom, but we don’t. So we are where we are, and we’re going to manage it.”

Right now, the Flyers have approximately $8.6 million in cap space, according to generalfanager.com.

Source: Flyers sign RW Dale Weise to 4-year deal, add C Boyd Gordon

Source: Flyers sign RW Dale Weise to 4-year deal, add C Boyd Gordon

The Flyers have moved on from Ryan White. 
 
The team on Friday signed depth winger Dale Weise, an NHL source confirmed. TSN's Bob McKenzie first reported the sides were close, and early Friday afternoon Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto welcomed Weise to the team. McKenzie later reported that White will join the Coyotes on a one-year, $1 million deal.

Weise's deal is worth $9.4 million over four years ($2.35 million average annual value), a source confirmed. 

Weise, 27, is a bigger player than White at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. His numbers are similar to White's, who did not re-sign with the Flyers in advance of free agency.

The Flyers went into free agency without much salary cap room and were unable to pursue high-end players such as Milan Lucic, David Backes and Kyle Okposo, all of whom received long-term deals averaging $6 million per season.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he wanted to add a top-nine player and Weise is just that. This will be his fifth NHL club. 
 
Weise had 14 goals last season — all with Montreal — before being traded to Chicago at the deadline.
 
A six-year veteran, Weise has just 37 goals in 329 games. His 14 goals this season with Les Canadiens were a career high.

Flyers add Gordon
Later in the day, the Flyers added another depth player with the signing of Boyd Gordon, a 32-year-old centerman, who has been with Phoenix, Edmonton and Arizona over the past four seasons, during which he tallied a total of 20 goals. Gordon's one-year deal is worth $950,000. 

Gordon, 32, averaged almost three minutes ice time a game on the penalty kill. Hextall said in the offseason he wanted to upgrade his PK units in terms of personnel and not in coaching. Gordon could very well fit the bill.

He’s also an excellent faceoff man — 57.9 percent last season. 

Three minor moves
In addition to adding Weise and Gordon, the Flyers also made three more minor additions. They signed forwards Greg Carey (one-year deal), Andy Miele (one-year deal) and defenseman Will O'Neill (two-year deal). 

Carey, a 26-year-old left wing, last played for the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. In his first full AHL season, he had 26 goals and 43 points. Carey has a two-way deal. 

Miele, a 28-year-old center, most recently played with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. Last year, he led his team with 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 75 games and had a plus-minus of plus-18. Miele's one-year deal is worth $575,000, with a signing bonus of $25,000. 

"Miele’s a one-way deal," Hextall said. "He’s a depth player for us. Scoring has been an issue for us, so he gives us another option if we feel like we need to score more goals. He’s a skill player and he can score goals."

O'Neill, a 28-year-old defenseman, comes from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL). He led all defensemen on his team with 50 points last year. O'Neill has a two-way deal. 

Ron Hextall on free agency: Flyers hope to get better but 'not at all costs'

Ron Hextall on free agency: Flyers hope to get better but 'not at all costs'

Cautiously optimistic.

That might be the best way to describe how Ron Hextall feels about free agency, which begins Friday at noon.

The Flyers' general manager is going to be very cautious in who he targets, won’t get caught up in a bidding war and is optimistic that he can find the right top-nine player at a fair price and term.

In perfect salary cap world — one in which the Flyers had oodles of money — they would be tempted by L.A.'s Milan Lucic, St. Louis’ David Backes or Boston’s Loui Eriksson.

Lucic, in many ways, is the kind of Flyer-type player the organization covets. But all three of those players are going to command more salary and term than the Flyers can afford, and Lucic appears headed to Western Canada, anyway.

The Flyers need a scoring winger.

They go into free agency with less than $12 million in salary cap space and still have to put aside close to $5 million for restricted free agent Brayden Schenn and $1 million or so for unrestricted free agent Ryan White (see story), a very valuable and versatile fourth-liner who can move around the lineup.

On top of that, Hextall needs about $2.5 million in reserve on his cap for call-ups.

Which means, without losing a contract of say $4.5 million or so, he has at best $4 million to sign a supporting cast player — not an impact player.

“I’d like to upgrade our top six, but I would certainly upgrade our top nine,” Hextall said. “We’re not going to do something that ties our hands next summer. There’s not going to be any short-term vision that doesn’t play out long term.

“I don’t want to get into a spot here where it costs us a young player and we’re forced into a deal.”

A player such as the Isles’ Kyle Okposo would be nicely suited for the Flyers. He’s going to command more dollars than the Flyers have.

So unless Hextall can move a decent-sized contract, the only way to sign an impact free-agent forward would be to gamble and go the CBA-allowed 10 percent over the cap now and hope to get under by October when the season begins.

A number of clubs, including Minnesota and Detroit, are reportedly interested in Okposo and have far more cap space.

Given the conservative approach Hextall has taken so far as GM, it’s unlikely he would go over the cap now unless he absolutely had a deal in hand to move salary.

He tried to trade at last weekend’s NHL draft in Buffalo and failed.

“We didn’t get close to that,” he said.

As it was, there were only a handful of trades during the draft.

“Every time you turn around, someone is trying to trade a pick and you almost lose touch with what is going on,” Hextall said.

“I think the cap being where it’s at kind of restricts things. Guys aren’t easy to move and a lot of teams don’t want to add too much because they can’t afford it.”

This week saw two significant deals leading into free agency involving P.K. Subban and Shea Weber, plus Taylor Hall and Adam Larsson.

And the top pending free agent, Steven Stamkos, re-signed for eight years in Tampa Bay for $68 million.

Don’t be shocked if Hextall waits a few days to see if the market changes for certain players and price tags to come down.

“July 1 is a funny day,” Hextall said. “Now the cap, it’s somewhat flat. Might be some guys out there who are good buys, but that is not going to happen July 1. It’s usually [July] 5th or 10th or 15th when guys figure out there’s not much out there.”

One thing to keep in mind is the Flyers also recognize that defensive prospect Ivan Provorov and forward prospect Travis Konecny could both make the roster this fall.

Such a scenario would add a total of about $1.79 million onto their cap. Hextall has to figure that into the equation, as well.

One player the Flyers had genuine interest in was Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, the unsigned prospect originally drafted by Nashville in 2012.

The Preds traded his rights to Buffalo at the draft and have until Aug. 15 to sign him or Vesey becomes a free agent.

A possible “stopgap” player today for the Flyers would be Toronto’s P.A. Parenteau, a 20-goal guy, who even at age 33, would upgrade coach Dave Hakstol’s offense at a reasonable price.

He’s the kind of bargain player Hextall seems more inclined to target if he can’t move salary for a top-six winger.

“We’re committed to getting better,” Hextall said. “Just not at all costs. At a reasonable cost.”