Three teams that could make big moves well before the NHL trade deadline

Jaromir Jagr (Getty Images)

When Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford dealt for former Oilers winger David Perron last week, it matched his longtime m.o. of making an acquisition well in advance of the NHL trade deadline. This season, the cutoff date for deals arrives March 2, but by that point, asking prices for meaningful players are likely to be even higher than the price Rutherford paid for Perron (a first-round draft pick). And for that reason, it’s entirely likely Rutherford’s colleagues will follow his lead and get on with their roster renovations sooner than later.

Which teams are more likely to be active on the trade front long before the deadline? In no particular order, here are three:

1. The Flyers. Philadelphia has lost five straight games and seven of their past 10, and they’ve got just two more wins than the Eastern Conference basement-dwelling Carolina Hurricanes. GM Ron Hextall has strongly hinted changes are on the horizon, and he’s not talking about the company letterhead. When the Flyers make moves, they’re usually big, and something needs to be done to either address Philly’s moribund defense corps for the long term. Once again, some of the organization’s young players may have to be shipped out to address their structural needs, but that just seems to be normalcy for Ed Snider’s group. Read more

Need last-minute wrapping tips? Let Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl help

Jared Clinton
Jakub Voracek

Wrapping gifts isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult if you try following the method either Jakub Voracek or Michael Raffl employ.

So, before you begin that last-minute wrapping effort, why not check out the video of Philadelphia Flyers teammates Voracek and Raffl take on a couple gifts of their own. If Raffl’s use-the-whole-roll-of-wrapping-paper technique isn’t working for you, why not try out Voracek’s patented all fours method. Read more

13-year journey leads Rob Zepp to first NHL start – and he got the win

Scheifele Rob Zepp Jets Flyers featured

It may have taken 13 years, but Rob Zepp finally has his first NHL win.

The 33-year-old goaltender picked up his first NHL victory in his very first start, getting the nod to man the Philadelphia Flyers goal for their Sunday evening game against the Winnipeg Jets following an injury to Steve Mason on Friday. Because of the Flyers schedule – the team played back-to-back nights on the road – Zepp got the call over fellow Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.

In his NHL debut, Zepp turned aside 25 shots and helped get Philadelphia to overtime. Jakub Voracek scored ten seconds into the extra frame to give the Flyers the 4-3 win and journeyman netminder his first victory.

What makes Zepp’s win so incredible is the road he took to get there – a long, winding journey that spans two NHL drafts, four leagues, three countries, and two continents. Read more

Leafs’ luck runs out as Grossmann scores fluke off the back boards

Josh Elliott
Toronto Maple Leafs Jonathan Bernier

The once high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs came crashing back to earth with another embarrassing defeat on Saturday, this time in a 7-4 loss to Philadelphia that hinged on a crazy ricochet goal.

The Leafs and Flyers played to a wild 3-3 tie after one period, but it was Nicklas Grossmann who broke the game open with one of the most bizarre goals of the year.

With his team pressuring, Grossmann took a pass at the left point and dumped the puck hard into the corner. The puck hit the back wall, then hit Jonathan Bernier‘s leg, then went in.

The slow-motion replay is like watching a game of Plinko.
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Giroux at it again, bites Gudbranson’s jersey. Has he snapped?

Jared Clinton
Claude Giroux (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Claude Giroux has had a strange year, to say the least. There was the incident over the summer in Ottawa involving a cop, he wiped some snot on a linesman, and now he’s gone and bitten Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

That’s right. During Thursday’s game against the Panthers, Giroux was skating alongside the massive blueliner, turned to face him, bit his jersey, then tugged at it with his teeth. The whole thing is very strange to see: Read more

The NHL shootout: the part of the game practice and coaching can’t solve

Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Florida Thursday marked their fifth loss in as many shootouts this season. With even one or two wins in those five games, Philly would be within sniffing distance of a wild card berth and not, as they currently are, closer in the standings to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes. And when veteran center Vincent Lecavalier was asked after the game whether the Flyers practiced the shootout enough, his answer likely didn’t make beleaguered head coach Craig Berube very happy.

“Well, obviously not,” said Lecavalier, who was one of the Flyers’ shooters. “I mean, maybe we could do more. They’re obviously very important points that you’re kind of leaving on the table. We have been practicing, but we probably could do more.”

Berube maintained the Flyers do practice enough, but the truth is, since it was first implemented in 2005, the shootout has been a Bermuda Triangle of expectations and logic. And the more you think about the so-called solution for a team’s shootout woes, the sillier it is. I mean, players have to practice scoring more? These men are almost universally dominant scorers at lower levels of the game and who think of different ways to score constantly, so what exactly would another 20 minutes or a half-hour after practice do for them, when it’s all but impossible to replicate the game conditions (including thousands of screaming fans potentially attempting to intimidate them) of an actual shootout? Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kings must free up space for Williams, Jets search for blueline help

Justin Williams

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Los Angeles Kings last week opened contract talks with right wing Justin Williams, winner of the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy during the Kings’ march to the Stanley Cup last spring.

LeBrun reports the Kings really want to retain the 33-year-old Williams, who loves playing and living in Los Angeles. Williams’ agent, however, has informed management his client prefers not to negotiate during the season. If a deal isn’t reached soon, talks could be shelved until season’s end. Read more

Claude Giroux pulls elementary school gag, wipes snot on referee before faceoff

Jared Clinton
Giroux

We’ve all been there: you’ve got to blow your nose or wipe it and you’re scrambling around looking for something to use. On Tuesday night, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux came up with his own solution.

In the dying minutes of the first period, as a faceoff was about to happen in the Tampa Bay zone, Giroux saw the referee turn to face the Lightning center Brian Boyle. Giroux quickly wiped his nose and patted the linesman on the back, the old elementary school gag: Read more