Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

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Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

Flyers vs. Devils – 7:30 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

Records
Flyers: 19-21-3 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, 11th in Eastern Conference)

Devils: 15-17-10 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves and the Flyers came away with a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils in the last matchup between these two clubs. Max Talbot scored the Flyers' lone goal in regulation, while Matt Read and Claude Giroux each beat Johan Hedberg in the shootout. A major reason why the Flyers earned the victory was because of their play on the penalty kill. They killed off all five Devils power plays, but more importantly stopped a 5-on-3 situation in the first period with the game still scoreless.

Thursday will mark the fifth and final meeting between the Flyers and Devils this season. New Jersey has owned the 2013 series, taking three of the four contests and outscoring the orange and black by a 14-7 margin.

Previous games
The Flyers received a strong performance from Steve Mason, who made 38 saves in his first home start at the Wells Fargo Center, and topped the New York Rangers, 4-2, on Tuesday. Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek each scored for the Flyers, who climbed to within five points of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Devils were shut out for a second consecutive game and fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-0, on Monday. Martin Brodeur turned aside 11 of 12 shots but it wasn't enough to keep New Jersey from losing its 10th game in a row. Phil Kessel was the only Leaf to beat Brodeur, before Jay McClement sealed the victory for Toronto with an empty-net marker.

Devil of a time
When the Flyers take the ice tonight, they will not have to worry about New Jersey's top sniper or two of the Devils' best defenseman. Neither Ilya Kovalchuk nor captain Bryce Salvador will play because of injuries and Anton Volchenkov will be serving the third game of a four-game suspension for elbowing Boston's Brad Marchand.

This is a huge break for the orange and black. Kovalchuk has lit up the Flyers for 10 goals and 20 assists since becoming a member of the Devils in February of 2010. It's also worth mentioning that New Jersey has not won a single game since Kovlachuk went down with a right shoulder injury on March 23 (0-6-4).  The Devils have struggled to find offense with Kovalchuk out of the lineup. During their 10-game skid, the team has potted just 16 goals.

On the other end of the ice, the Flyers have a chance to keep their offense going with Salvador and Volchenkov absent from the Devils' blueline. After scoring just three goals during a four-game losing skid, the Flyers have gone off for 11 tallies in their last two contests combined. With New Jersey missing two key shut-down defenseman, the Flyers  need to capitalize on this opportunity if they want to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Scoreboard watching
Entering tonight's game, the Flyers trail the Rangers by five points for the final postseason position in the East. The Devils are back six points for the eighth seed.

The Rangers, who have one game in hand on the Flyers, will also be in action. They host the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m.

Winnipeg and Buffalo -- the two teams ahead of the Flyers and Devils -- are also in the hunt for a playoff position, but are idle on Thursday.

Keep an eye on ...
Look for Jakub Voracek to come out strong against the Devils. The 23-year-old has been one of the few bright spots for the Flyers this season and has been playing with a ton of confidence alongside Claude Giroux. In the win over the Rangers, Voracek collected his 19th goal, a new career high, with an empty-net tally. With 43 points in 2013, he trails only Giroux (44) for the team-lead in scoring.

One Devil that always seems to hurt the Flyers is Patrik Elias. The veteran forward has faced the orange and black 80 times in his career. In those games, Elias has registered 35 goals and 45 assists. It's been the same story in 2013 as Elias has two goals and three assists in the four meetings between the two bitter rivals.

Did you know?
The Devils have not gone winless in 11 straight since an 0-7-4 slide in the 1990-91 season.

Injuries
Flyers: Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder), Braydon Coburn (separated left shoulder), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Bruno Gervais (abdominal surgery), Kent Huskins (concussion), Max Talbot (broken left leg), Zac Rinaldo (high left ankle sprain) and Jody Shelley (left hip) all remain sidelined.

Devils: Kovalchuk (sprained right shoulder) and Salvador (bruised right wrist) will not play against the Flyers and could miss the remainder of the season if New Jersey falls out of playoff contention.

Sound off
Will the Flyers hand New Jersey its 11th straight loss tonight? Explain why or why not below.

NHL Notes: Predators sign Calle Jarnkrok to 6-year, $12 million contract

NHL Notes: Predators sign Calle Jarnkrok to 6-year, $12 million contract

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Matt Carle to a one-year contract hours after signing forward Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year, $12 million contract through 2021-22.

Under the deals announced by the Predators on Wednesday, Carle will earn $700,000 this season while Jarnkrok will earn $1.7 million this season rising to $2.2 million in both 2019-20 and 2020-2021 before dipping to $2 million in the final year.

The 31-year-old Carle is a veteran of 724 NHL games with 282 points while playing with San Jose, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia where he played for now Nashville coach Peter Laviolette. The 6-foot, 197-pound defenseman spent the past four seasons with Tampa Bay, which included a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup finals.

The 24-year-old Jarnkrok played in 71 games last season and scored a career-high 16 goals with 30 points. The native of Gavle, Sweden, was second on the team with four game-winning goals last season.

The 51st pick overall by Detroit in the 2010 entry draft, Jarnkrok was traded to Nashville on March 5, 2014, and was a restricted free agent.

Lightning: Namestnikov re-signs for 2 years
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year, $3.875 million contract Wednesday.

The 23-year-old appeared in 80 games last season, finishing with 14 goals and 35 points. He had one goal and four points while skating in 17 games during the playoffs. In 127 career NHL games, the Russian has 23 goals and 51 points.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced the deal.

Hurricanes: Head coach Bill Peters extended 3 years
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes signed coach Bill Peters to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season, general manager Ron Francis said Wednesday.

Peters has a record of 65-72-27 in two seasons while leading the Hurricanes' rebuilding project. They finished this season sixth in the Metropolitan Division with a 35-31-16 record, but earned 86 points -- their most since 2010-11, and a 15-point improvement from Peters' first year.

"We knew it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround," Peters said. "It takes time. ... I just like the direction we're headed in, and we're headed in that direction for a long period of time."

The Hurricanes used three rookies in the rotation on defense, and mounted a last-gasp -- but ultimately unsuccessful -- push for their first playoff appearance since 2009 by earning points in 12 of the 14 games that came after trading captain and franchise face Eric Staal to the New York Rangers.

Terms of Peters' extension were not disclosed. Peters was entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in June 2014, when he was hired to take over for the fired Kirk Muller.

"You've got a head coach heading into the last year of his deal," Francis said. "It's important that if you like him and you want to have him around, you get this done."

The Hurricanes have reached the playoffs just once since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. Carolina's seven-year postseason drought is the longest among Eastern Conference teams.

"Professionally, it's the right thing for me, and I want to see this thing through, and I want to get in the playoffs, and I want to get on a run," Peters said.

With Brandon Manning signed, what's next for Flyers?

With Brandon Manning signed, what's next for Flyers?

Now that young defenseman Brandon Manning has been re-signed, the Flyers wiped the table clean of any unfinished business with potential arbitration hearings this summer.
 
For now, they are done with their in-house reorganizing, but could still do a deal for a scoring winger at some point moving forward.
 
Manning’s signing left the club with 23 players for the coming season on the NHL roster — 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.
 
More significantly, it also left the Flyers with little salary cap breathing room — $1.038 million, according to generalfanager.com.
 
They still have to lose a forward even though they opened with 14 last season. General manager Ron Hextall might start with eight defensemen, which brings us to 13 forwards.
 
Right now, the top target among the forwards to be sent to the AHL would be Jordan Weal ($650,000 cap hit).
 
That gives them the right number of forwards, but what about creating a spot for prospect Travis Konecny if — and that’s a big if — he’s ready to make the NHL cut out of training camp?
 
Hextall has said several times since the season ended that regardless of how his roster stands, if a prospect is ready for the NHL, he’ll find a spot for him.
 
Which brings us to the defense. Manning is the perfect seventh man on the defense. He was both that and a regular last season while playing 56 games. He also helps the Flyers in another way.
 
If he plays 14 games this season (70 overall in two seasons), he would be eligible to be exposed in next summer’s NHL expansion draft because he is also under contract for the following year, another stipulation in the expansion rules.
 
That doesn’t mean he won’t be exposed. Under the NHL’s expansion rules, teams will have the option of protecting one goaltender, three defensemen and seven forwards. Or they can protect one goalie and eight skaters, four of which can be defensemen.
 
Given Andrew MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit, you can be sure he will be exposed.
 
The issue for the present, however, is how will the Flyers fit defensive prospect Ivan Provorov onto the roster, if he can make the club out of camp?
 
Provorov was impressive in development camp. When compared against fellow prospects Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg, he was easily above them in terms of overall development.
 
The simple solution here would be to move veteran defenseman Mark Streit, who turns 39 in December. Streit has a no-trade clause but would likely waive it to remain in the NHL. Except there hasn’t been any interest in Streit since last winter.
 
Streit doesn’t have a no-movement clause, so like MacDonald, he could go to the AHL Phantoms, but because of his salary ($5.25 million), the most the Flyers can save off their cap is $950,000.
 
The Flyers could also move Nick Schultz, even to the minors, and save $950,000. Schultz, however, played very well in the playoffs and Hextall has said more than once he likes what he brings off the ice in terms of leadership around younger players.
 
The easy move would be to send Manning ($975,000) to the Phantoms and promote Provorov. Because of his age (19), Provorov either plays with the Flyers or returns to his WHL club this fall. His NHL cap hit would be less than Manning — $894,166.
 
Yet seeing how things unfolded last season, it’s more likely that MacDonald would again be a cap victim and return to the AHL rather than have him sit there as the seventh defenseman, which doesn’t do him any good unless the Flyers carry eight defensemen and 13 forwards.
 
At present, generalfanager.com has the Flyers at $71,961,666 out of the $73 million cap, including the buyout of R.J. Umberger. Eliminating Weal and Manning while adding Provorov leaves them at $71,230,832. Their cap space would be $1.76 million.
 
All the above assumes Hextall doesn’t make any trades, plus Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton and Boyd Gordon all make the final roster. It’s not a given all three do. Gordon's cap hit is $950,000 — almost as much as Manning's.
 
Because the Flyers could go with an extra forward or defenseman, it sets up all kinds of possibilities with the final roster come training camp.
 
At least one player figures to lose their job.

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.