Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

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Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

Flyers at Sabres -- 12:30 p.m., NBC
First Niagara Center, Buffalo

The Flyers are back in action a day after opening their lockout-shortened, 48-game season with a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Next up for the Flyers are the Buffalo Sabres, who haven't enjoyed much success against the orange and black over the past few seasons.

That especially goes for Sabres netminder Ryan Miller, who has posted a 12-10-0-2 record with a 3.15 goals against average and .899 save percentage in 26 career games against the Flyers.

Records
Flyers: 0-1-0

Sabres: 0-0-0

Last meeting
The last time these two teams met, the Flyers eliminated the Sabres from postseason contention with a 2-1 win on April 5. Matt Read and Marc-Andre Bourdon each scored in the third period to help the Flyers sweep the season series against Buffalo, 4-0. Former Flyer Ville Leino netted the Sabres' only marker.

Previous games
The Flyers opened their 2013 campaign with a sloppy 3-1 loss to the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. The Penguins jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov performed well overall. He made 24 saves on 26 shots. Captain Claude Giroux scored the Flyers' lone goal courtesy of a nifty saucer pass from linemate Scott Hartnell on the opening shift of the second period.

Buffalo was one of only four teams -- along with Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose -- that did not play on Saturday. Sunday's contest with the Flyers will be the Sabres' first game since they ended their 2011-12 season with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins.

Inside the box score
The Flyers outhit the Penguins on Sunday, 40-37. Zac Rinaldo and Matt Cooke each delivered a game-high seven checks.

Kimmo Timonen led the Flyers in ice time at 23:52. The 37-year-old recorded two shots and was a plus-1 in the loss.

The Flyers' power play unit went 0 for 5 on the man advantage. The Flyers took only three penalties, but allowed two goals while shorthanded -- one on an empty net.

Keep an eye on ...
Flyers rookie Scott Laughton had a strong debut on Saturday. The 18-year-old delivered four checks, blocked a shot and went 2 for 6 on faceoffs in just over 12 minutes of ice time against Pittsburgh. The Flyers now have four games to decide whether they want to keep Laughton or send him back to juniors in Oshawa. Last season, Laughton scored 21 goals and had 32 assists in 64 games for the Generals in the OHL.

Similarly, Sabres rookie Mikhail Grigorenko is in the same position as Laughton. Grigorenko has five games to prove that he belongs in the NHL before Buffalo is forced to make a decision on whether to keep him on its roster or send him back to juniors in Quebec. The 18-year-old recorded 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games with the Remparts in the QMJHL last season.

Did you know?
The Flyers are 6-2 against Buffalo over the past two regular seasons and have outscored the Sabres 36-23 in those eight games.

The last time Buffalo reached the postseason was in 2010-11, when the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in seven games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Bruins in the second round.

Injuries
Flyers: Danny Briere is still recovering from a hairline fracture in his left wrist and will not play against his former club on Sunday.

Sabres: Leino is questionable for Sunday's game with a nagging knee injury. Forwards Cody McCormick (finger) and Nathan Gerbe (back surgery) are on Injured Reserve.

Sound off
Should the Flyers keep Laughton or send him back to juniors?

E-mail Tim Riday at triday@comcastsportsnet.com.

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.”