Philadelphia Flyers

Voracek injured in Flyers' preseason loss to NJ

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Voracek injured in Flyers' preseason loss to NJ

On a night when the Flyers' top centerman, Claude Giroux, made his preseason debut coming off an injury, his top right wing went down with an injury of his own.

Jakub Voracek, the Flyers’ leading goal scorer last season with 22, sustained an “upper-body” injury during the second period of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s not serious,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “I don’t think he was going to play on Thursday anyway.”

Voracek was taken down hard from behind by Devils’ defenseman Mark Fayne during a second period breakaway.

The Czech winger slid awkwardly into the left post, appearing to injure the left side of his back. Though awarded a penalty shot, Voracek was in so much discomfort, he failed to get a decent shot off.

Even before taking the penalty shot, Voracek was in obvious pain after untangling himself from the net.

“You never want to see that,” coach Peter Laviolette said of the injury. “I love the move he made -- the power move to the net from the outside. It was a great play, a great attempt, but you don’t want to see anybody hurt.”

Voracek left the game and did not return, but was walking afterward without a limp. He was not, however, permitted to speak to the media.

Giroux made his preseason debut recovering from surgery to repair tendon damage to his right hand.

“I felt better as the game went on,” Giroux said. “I think the first period was just getting back in the game and making plays.”

He must be feeling pretty good, as Giroux won 9 of 11 faceoffs.

“He will continue to get to game speed and there is always a little bit of transition for guys coming in that … come off an injury and getting back into a game,” Laviolette said.

“Game speed and quickness, so I think that will get better for him as he plays and practices. Overall, he played a pretty good game.”

Injuries aside, early on this was another frustrating match against a Devils team that literally owns the Flyers.

What was unnerving about just another preseason game is that some of the things that presented themselves against the Devils, we’ve seen in the regular season.

Specifically, the Flyers' inability to handle the Devils' nasty forecheck. In fairness, once they found their skating legs in the second period, that was no longer an issue. However, the Flyers didn’t generate enough quality chances overall on goalie Corey Schneider.

In the first period, the Flyers couldn’t even generate shots, as they went over 11 minutes without a single one. When they finally did get one, it wasn’t from one of their high-octane forwards but rather enforcer Jay Rosehill.

New Jersey outshot the Flyers, 11-4, that period.

Second period? That was a completely different story, as the Flyers began moving their skates in unison.

“New guys playing with new guys and learning the system,” Giroux said. “You could see as the game went on we took control a little bit. New Jersey is always good defensively. We had our chances.”

Voracek’s breakaway represented the Flyers' best chance of the game.

The Flyers outplayed the Devils in the second period and had the better chances overall.

The Devils' first goal early in the game was a beauty in which Ryane Clowe hit Marek Zidlicky pinching down the slot from the point.

Zidlicky quickly scanned the Flyers' defense and put a stutter-step move on Erik Gustafsson. It was enough to allow him to swing very, very wide to the right circle, then cut behind Gustafsson to the net, switch hands and tuck the puck inside the right post.

The way Ray Emery was playing it, he obviously expected Zidlicky to go wide around the net and that didn’t happen.

“Yeah, it’s just a situation where you kind of get froze and you want to kind of challenge the shooter there, and he made a good play kind of coming back against it,” Emery said.

Mike Sislo’s backhander in the final period was weak. Not only did he get too much room in beating Andrej Meszaros, his shot found a hole between the post and Emery, as well.

Kimmo Timonen had a power-play goal late in the game.

The Flyers are now 1-3-1 with two exhibition games left to play -- Thursday in New Jersey and Friday in Washington.

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).