Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers-Devils: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Devils: 5 things you need to know

At least one team is bound to break out, right?

Two of the NHL's worst offensive clubs will face off in a Metropolitan Division clash when the Flyers (4-9-1) host the New Jersey Devils (3-7-4) at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

With puck drop set for 7 p.m. (CSN), here are five things you need to know for Flyers-Devils:

1. Will anybody score?
Hard times have fallen on these two bitter rivals.

The Flyers have scored just one goal in each of their past two games and rank dead last in the NHL at 1.57 goals per game. The Devils aren't much better. They've been shut out in consecutive games and are second-to-last in the league at 1.86 goals per game.

Entering Thursday's game, the Flyers have netted only two markers in their last 226-plus minutes. New Jersey has gone more than 144 minutes without a tally.

Scoring woes have plagued both teams in the early going, so don't be surprised if Thursday's game looks like a repeat of when the Flyers and Devils last met -- a 1-0 win for the orange and black on Saturday. Brayden Schenn scored the only goal of the game and Ray Emery stopped 14 New Jersey shots for his first shutout of the season.

It's also worth pointing out the Devils are tied for the fewest wins in the league, but have one more point than the Flyers, who sit dead last in the Metropolitan Division. This matchup should be looked at as an early-season must-win for both clubs.

2. Changing it up
Craig Berube is at it again. The Flyers' head coach has tried just about every line combination you can think of in hopes to generate offense, but has not succeeded yet.

At practice Wednesday, Berube moved Jakub Voracek back to the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell (see story). Those three players have combined for just two tallies this season.

“Me, Jake and Hartsy had chemistry before,” said Giroux, who has not found the back of the net in 2013-14. “We can get that early in tomorrow’s game [against New Jersey]."

Berube also ended the Vinny Lecavalier at right wing experiment -- for now. He will center Brayden Schenn and Matt Read against the Devils.

The Flyers have not found much chemistry this season. They've scored a goal or less in eight of their last 14 games and have only scored more than three goals once. That, obviously, has to change.

3. Injury updates
Steve Downie is the only Flyer on the injury list. The newly-acquired forward skated on his own Wednesday and was upgraded to day to day with a concussion (see story).

The Devils, however, have several key players with ailments. Defensemen Bryce Salvador (foot) and Jon Merrill (face) and forwards Patrik Elias (upper body) and Ryan Clowe (concussion) are out for Thursday's matchup.

There is some good news for New Jersey. Travis Zajac, who sprained his ankle at practice last week, could return to the Devils' lineup against the Flyers.

Zajac has just one goal and three assists in 12 games this season. He has recorded 27 points in 39 career regular-season games against the orange and black.

Finally, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov told reporters Wednesday he would play against the Flyers. He sat out New Jersey's loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday because of a lower-body injury.

4. Minor move
The Flyers on Wednesday recalled Kris Newbury from their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, and sent down forward Tye McGinn.

Why? It's pretty simple. Tye McGinn is not a fourth-line player. That's the role McGinn found himself in on Tuesday. He played just over five minutes while skating with Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo in the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

It would benefit the Flyers -- and McGinn -- more to give the 23-year-old more ice time with the Phantoms.

Newbury, 31, has appeared in three games for the Flyers this season, registering one assist and seven penalty minutes.

At this point, it makes much more sense for Newbury to eat up fourth-line minutes with the big club and use McGinn in a bigger role with the Phantoms.

5. This and that
• Steve Mason, who has a 3.68 goals-against average vs. New Jersey in his career, is 3-7-1 this season despite not allowing more than three goals in any game.

• The Flyers have lost six of eight games at home this season. The Devils have lost eight of nine on the road.

• Martin Brodeur will start for New Jersey. He is 46-28-1-7 with 11 shutouts, a 2.49 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in his career against the Flyers.

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed center Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The extension runs through the 2024-25 season, similar to the eight-year, $100-million extension superstar captain Connor McDavid signed with the team in July.

With the signings, the Oilers are banking on McDavid and Draisaitl providing a potent one-two punch for the team as it looks to build on last season's return to the playoffs after a decade of futility.

Draisaitl, a 21-year-old German, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) last season, his third in the NHL.

He finished eighth among NHL scorers, and second on the Oilers behind McDavid.

He led the Oilers in scoring during the 2017 playoffs, posting 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Oilers at the 2015 draft (see full story).

Avalanche: Hobey Baker winner Butcher now free agent
College hockey's top player is an NHL free agent after former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher allowed a deadline to pass without signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and had until Tuesday to sign the Hobey Baker Award winner who led Denver to a national championship in April.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Butcher already has had discussions with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and NHL-expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The person said Butcher has not yet narrowed his list, and is also talking with other teams.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

The Denver Post first reported the three specific teams expressing interest in Butcher (see full story).

Wild: Cullen comes home for 21st NHL season
The Minnesota Wild and center Matt Cullen have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, bringing him back to his home state for a 21st season in the NHL.

The Wild announced the deal, which includes $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, on Wednesday.

Cullen played the last two years with Pittsburgh, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Penguins. He played three seasons for the Wild from 2010-13, his first return to Minnesota since launching his career at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State.

Cullen, who will turn 41 on Nov. 2, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 72 games in 2016-17 for the Penguins, plus two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He has played in 1,366 career regular season games, the sixth-most among active players (see full story).

ESPN analyst ranks Flyers' farm system No. 1 in NHL

ESPN analyst ranks Flyers' farm system No. 1 in NHL

Ron Hextall never told fans to "trust the process," but apparently any faith in the Flyers' GM has been vindicated.

At least that's the case if you believe ESPN NHL writer Corey Pronman's latest farm system rankings (it's an Insider story, so apologies in advance). Pronman has the Flyers' farm ranked as No. 1 in the NHL. 

"The Flyers don't have as much game-breaking talent as our No. 2 team (Coyotes) does at the top of their system," Pronman writes, "but 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick is right up there; after Patrick, the Flyers have the cupboards lined with talent at every position."

Pronman credits the Flyers with nailing his first-round picks (Patrick, Ivan Provorov), grabbing middle-round prospects that have blossomed (Shayne Gostisbehere, Oskar Lindblom) and specifically mentions Phil Myers, an undrafted defenseman that has become "one of the very best defense prospects in hockey."

For so long, the Flyers' organization was perpetually in "win-now mode," but the late Ed Snider hired Hextall away from the Kings and eventually made him GM, knowing that Hexy was taking a broader view of the organization. Instead of trading away young talent and draft picks for aging veterans, Hextall restocked a dreadful farm system to get the team where it is today.

"Not too long ago, the Flyers' farm system was a laughingstock, with C-grade college free agents making it into their top five," Pronman said. "Today, they are in the best position of any NHL team in terms of adding young premium players to their roster."