Philadelphia Flyers

Is it possible for the Flyers to trade Lecavalier?

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Is it possible for the Flyers to trade Lecavalier?

Coach Craig Berube struggled to find a suitable place for center Vinny Lecavalier. General Manager Ron Hextall could be facing a similar challenge.

TSN hockey analyst Darren Dreger reported the Flyers are now interested in dealing the 34-year-old center after just one year in Philadelphia, and with the organization fresh out of compliance buyouts (see: Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere), the Flyers would have to find a suitable partner for an offseason swap.

To facilitate a trade, first and foremost, the Flyers would have to eat a portion of Lecavalier’s salary. He’s due $16.5 million over the next four years, including $6 million for 2014-15, and under current CBA guidelines, the Flyers could retain as much as 50 percent. Assuming they’re willing to do that, the acquiring team would pay Lecavalier $8.25 over four years, which would give general managers something to seriously consider.

The $4.5 cap hit is completely transferrable, so the benefit for the Flyers is two-fold: creating some needed cap space, and opening up a spot on the active roster -- addition by subtraction. The return for the Flyers would have to be minimal. It’s a far reach to think the Flyers would receive a younger player in return, so the asking price should be nothing more than a draft pick.

Secondly, Lecavalier would have to be completely willing to waive his no-movement clause with no strings attached. If Lecavalier comes up with a short list of teams, then it could easily kill any potential deal. But the most difficult component of a trade will be finding a team and GM that still believe Lecavalier has some productive years left while remaining healthy into his mid-to late-30s. Where should Hextall start his search? Here’s a few potential destinations:

Nashville: This may seem like the obvious connection now that Peter Laviolette is behind the Predators' bench. It was Lavy’s up-tempo system that was a real selling point for Lecavalier here in Philadelphia. The Predators are desperate for a scoring center and GM David Poile likes a bargain if the Flyers agree to pick up half of Lecavalier's contract.

Ottawa: The Senators could be in the market for a first- and/or second-line center, especially if they elect to deal captain Jason Spezza, who has reportedly asked management for a trade. Adding to the Senators' concerns, they currently have just four forwards signed after next season.

Florida: After spending his first 14 seasons in Tampa, Lecavalier could see returning to Florida as an enticing option. The Panthers, too, are desperate for centermen. Like Ottawa, Florida has a lot of holes on its roster after 2014-15. Lecavalier’s wicked one-timer from the right circle would give a boost to the league’s worst power play that connected on just 10 percent last season.

Dallas: Last year, the Stars were one of the teams reportedly in hot pursuit of Lecavalier. Outside of the deadly combination of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, the Stars would like to find some secondary scoring. Dallas finished 23rd on the power play last season, and they too could benefit from Lecavalier’s presence.

Calgary: Another team in dire need of talented players is the Flames, and Brian Burke has shown a preference for big, skilled centers. Cap space isn’t an issue with over $30 million of room, and for much of last season the Flames were a competitive team that couldn’t get over the hump. Right now, Matt Stajan is Calgary’s highest-paid center at just over $3 million/season.

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."