Philadelphia Flyers

How will pad, net changes impact goalies?

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How will pad, net changes impact goalies?

There are two changes this season in the goal crease that will affect the goaltender, and both are changes to equipment.
 
First, goalie pads have been reduced from 11 inches above the center of the knee to nine inches. Less pad means more shooting room and a higher percentage to score.
 
The second change comes to the net itself. Although the overall dimensions of the net have not changed, the netting itself is now four inches shallower, allowing more room for players to maneuver behind the net.
 
If you go back to the 1960s when the net had two large circular bases, you can clearly see a difference in the space players now have to move around behind it.
 
This will be veteran goalie Ray Emery’s 10th season in the NHL, so he’s accustomed to changes in the crease and to his equipment.
 
Regarding the nets, Emery didn’t see it as problematic.
 
“You need to get your butt in there and move around and see if you are gonna hit the back bar or how your feet go in the net,” Emery said. “I think it’s good. There will be more room behind the net to generate plays around the net.
 
“Especially, with this team. We’ve got guys who can wheel and deal. It works as long as we figure out how to stop the other team.”
 
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had great difficulty with shots directly in front of him when the play itself developed behind the net.
 
“I guess that is what [the league is] trying to encourage,” Emery said. “Maybe there will be more plays generated from back there. We’ll see how it works. I got a system I play from back there. I’ll rely on that and maybe tweak it a bit when I figure out the new nets.”
 
As for losing two inches on his pads, Emery didn’t think that was a big deal, either. The last time the league changed pads was prior to the 2010-11 season.
 
“Pad size? Not really,” he said. “I got an inch taken off mine. As a goalie, you want to cover as much net, but it feels kind of good. You can move a bit. I’m not rubbing. You get used to it. You stay a bit tighter and don’t open up as much.”
 
Emery said he often makes adjustments to his pads even when the league doesn’t mandate them.
 
“I’m always kind of changing things on my pads every year,” he said. “There’s a few adaptations I have to make. When I tweak something to get more coverage a certain way, I have to get used to that. This is vice-versa. I have to get used to less coverage.”

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."