NHL notes: Flyers-Rangers could be a Classic

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

The Philadelphia Flyers will be home to the New York Rangers on Jan. 2 in the 2012 Winter Classic, according to numerous reports.

It would mark the first time the game has not been played Jan. 1. However, New Year's Day is on a Sunday, which would conflict with the NFL schedule -- provided the football league resolves its labour issues and actually plays this season.

The Flyers and Rangers reportedly would be played at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies.

It would be the Flyers' second outdoor game in a ball park. They met the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Classic at Fenway Park.

Habs sign offensive defenceman

Offensive-minded defenceman Rafael Diaz of Switzerland has signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

Diaz, 25, was the second-leading scorer among defencemen this season in the Swiss Elite League, getting 12 goals and 27 assists in 45 games. He was a plus-14.

Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier said he strongly believes Diaz, a free-agent signing, can make the jump to the NHL.

"Raphael is a defenceman with excellent offensive and defensive skills, who has constantly improved his play over the years," Gauthier said.

Diaz had three goals and one assist in six games at the world championship.

Grabner gets sweet deal

Seven months ago, Michael Grabner was claimed off the waiver scrap heap from the Florida Panthers.

On Friday, the skilful forward agreed to a five-year contract with the New York Islanders in the wake of an outstanding rookie season.

The deal is worth $15 million, according to Newsday.

Grabner, 23, led the Islanders as well as all NHL rookies with 34 goals, earning a nomination for the Calder Trophy.

"Michael showed last season that he is an elite player in this league," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "In addition to providing speed and skill to our offence, he has worked hard to elevate the defensive side of his game."

A native of Austria, Grabner won the league's fastest-skater competition during all-star weekend in Raleigh, N.C.

He was originally selected 14th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2006 draft.

Draft pick a unanimous decision

The Edmonton Oilers will select Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall in the NHL entry draft.

That's not official, but that's the consensus from three staffers at NHL.com, each of whom has posted a mock draft.

Here are the top five from Adam Kimelman: Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer; Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener; Sean Couturier, Drummondville; Adam Larsson, Skelleftea, Sweden; Doug Hamilton, Niagara.

The top five from Mike G. Morreale: Nugent-Hopkins; Larsson; Landeskog; Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John; Hamilton.

The top five from Steven Hoffner: Nugent-Hopkins; Landeskog; Huberdeau; Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John; Larsson.


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