Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers Notes: Ron Hextall working toward protected list in expansion draft

Flyers Notes: Ron Hextall working toward protected list in expansion draft

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have until 5 p.m. Saturday to submit their protected list to the NHL, prior to next week's expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.

General manager Ron Hextall said his list wasn't that hard to figure out once he elected to choose the 7-3-1 option — seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie.

"That's the way it works for us," Hextall said Friday. "It hasn't been that difficult to be honest. There's a lot of teams with harder decisions than we have to make."

The hardest decision would seem to be in goal. Do you protect veteran Michal Neuvirth or young Anthony Stolarz, who is recovering from major knee surgery and likely would not be selected if exposed?

"Is it difficult?" Hextall said when asked about that decision. "It's more philosophical, I guess. You got an older guy or a younger guy."

Hextall said the Flyers would wait until the last minute to submit their list.

"We're not going to hand it in until we have to hand it in because you don't know what's going to come your way," Hextall said. "We're going to wait until close to the deadline and we'll go then. Something happens between now and then, I have no idea."

The pending expansion draft has shifted priorities while diverting attention usually paid to other offseason matters.

"It's been a different offseason," Hextall said. "It seems like everyone's a little bit hesitant to do things and then bang, one [Jonathan Drouin trade on Thursday].

"Everybody's so focused on the expansion draft, it's almost taken away from focusing on September, which is usually what we're focused on.

"It's been different for sure. Again, we're in a reasonable position. We're gonna lose a good player, make no mistake. Whoever we lose, we're gonna lose a good player."

Tampa Bay had both cap issues and protection issues for the expansion draft and was forced to trade Drouin to Montreal. The Flyers don't face that situation.

"There's only a certain amount of teams that can take guys on," he said. "I think a lot of teams are approaching it like, 'If I trade one guy, I'm gonna lose another guy. Now I'm losing two guys.'

"Is the package you get for a trade worth taking two guys out of your lineup? Most teams are approaching it like that. There's a couple I think that aren't and probably shouldn't be."

Mason situation
Hextall denied what agent Anton Thun told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, that any chance of re-signing goalie Steve Mason for next season has ended.

"Absolutely not," Hextall said. "We haven't given him an offer, but we've talked. Maybe a week ago? Ten days ago, somewhere in that range. I thought we had a good conversation."

As of now, Neuvirth is the only veteran goalie on the roster. It's possible — perhaps likely — that Hextall attempts to deal for a goalie with one or two years left on his contract at the NHL draft or even trade for the rights of an upcoming free agent.

The Flyers think their future netminder is two years away from playing in the NHL. Hextall needs a stopgap solution. Maybe he finds it at the next week's draft in Chicago.

"I don't talk about trades, but I think there's a possibility it could go anywhere," he said. "It's not clear to me as yet. Certainly Mase is still an option, there's other guys out there, too."  

Weal, Vecchione update
Talks to re-sign Jordan Weal and Mike Vecchione continue.

Weal is obviously more complicated because he is an unrestricted free agent. The Flyers have agreed on contract length, but not the money.

"I don't know," Hextall said. "I don't know what they're doing ... apparently the agent said something, but we've had conversations obviously. Last time I talked to him, it's in the same spot. Nothing new.

"Vegas can do what they want and Weal's a free agent, so he can do what he wants. What are you going to do?"

As for Vecchione, who is restricted: "We haven't even qualified any of those guys yet," Hextall said. "That's not a focus right now, any of the restricted."

NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

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NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have lost top center Travis Zajac for four to six months with a pectoral injury.

Devils executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero announced that Zajac had surgery to repair the pectoral muscle on Thursday.

Shero said the Zajac was hurt last week during offseason training.

Dr. Jonathan L. Glashow performed the surgery and estimated that Zajac's recovery time could last until February. The season starts in October.

The 32-year-old Zajac had 14 goals and 31 assists last season. He has 155 career goals and 280 assists. He has played for the Devils since the 2006-07 season.

The 20th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Zajac signed an eight-year, $46 million contract in 2013.

Sabres sign Zemgus Girgensons to 2-year deal

Sabres: Team signs forward Girgensons to 2-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have signed forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year contract.

The team announced the deal Thursday that carries an average value of $1.6 million.

Girgensons, from Latvia, is the last of the Sabres' restricted free agents to sign with the team. Buffalo's first-round pick in 2012 has 37 goals and 49 assists in 277 career games over four seasons.

He skated in a career-best 75 games last season after signing a one-year extension last September.

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).