Flyers Training Camp Update: Goalie Competition, Martel, Knight, Vorobyev
Fresh off their fifth preseason game in six days, the Flyers were back on the ice at Skate Zone in Voorhees on Saturday morning.
There was not as much to speak of on the ice. Shayne Gostisbehere skated after leaving Friday’s game for precautionary reasons and didn’t look worse for wear, so all appears to be good with the Flyers defenseman.
Sean Couturier skated briefly with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, but left the practice early and was followed by a trainer. There was no further update on him after practice. There were also no additional updates on Michal Neuvirth’s condition.
Travis Sanheim and Dale Weise were both off the ice as well on Saturday. Pascal Laberge remains off the ice as well, though his fate is already known. Hextall said that when he’s able to be on the ice again, he will go to the Phantoms.
The goalies are the leading topic at camp now with Alex Lyon and now Neuvirth dealing with injuries. Brian Elliott is also working his way back from an injury. That has all eyes on Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz, two goalies just trying to throw their name into the competition.
"You just have to come to the rink ready to work and ready to compete every day." Hart said. "I'm not really too worried about [injuries]. Obviously you don't want to see that happen to other guys. I think right now you have to worry about yourself and your teammates and you're fighting for a job."
"I think the biggest thing was playing those four games at the end of the year last year. Being able to get into game action last year kind of settled my nerves," Stolarz said. "I was able to go out and train all summer. Getting the games this week, especially the full game, was nice, going out there and showing I can play a full 60 minutes and have no repercussions so it was nice to get out there again. Obviously last night wasn't the way I hoped, but at the same time there are some positives. For me, I just have to continue to build, keep working hard and try to take the positives out of everything and try to settle in here."
Hakstol said that Elliott is going to see more action over the next week in preparation for the season. Hart noted that he is preparing himself for Monday, an indication that he could be in the lineup as well.
Martel Claimed Off Waivers
The Flyers roster is down to 36 with four players heading to the Phantoms via waivers. Greg Carey, Phil Varone, Cole Bardreau and T.J. Brennan all cleared waivers and will join Phantoms camp starting Sunday. Radel Fazleev was also loaned to the Phantoms.
It was a bittersweet day for a lot of the Phantoms regulars and the organization, as Danick Martel was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Martel had been with the Flyers organization since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
"He's a good player. It's a good opportunity for him," Dave Hakstol said. "He's worked hard. You hate to lose a player like that out of the organization, but that's the business."
The Flyers roster is at 35 players.
Knight, Vorobyev May Have Upper Hand In Roster Battles
The lines at practice, at least before Couturier’s exit, started to resemble more of an NHL lineup and an idea of what we can expect to see when the season begins.
The line combinations were as follows for drills on Saturday:
The top three lines seem to be the lines everyone had on paper to start the season. The second line of James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek has played in a game together. Giroux, Couturier and Konecny played together on a line last season. Wayne Simmonds playing with Oskar Lindblom and Mikhail Vorobyev provides a strong indication that Vorobyev is a leading contender for a roster spot.
Corban Knight has really had a strong camp and worked his way into the conversation. The trio of Knight, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl has the feel of a fourth line. Knight understands that he would be a role player, and is focused on providing depth for the Flyers.
"I think for me, it comes back to versatility," Knight said. "Whether it be wing or center, I just have to make sure I'm flexible and really solid in all those positions. That's something I've been trying to focus on throughout camp here is just trying to make sure I'm detailed in every aspect of the game."
Hakstol noted that these lines are close to what they wanted to see on the ice when they put ideas down on paper early in camp. This is pretty close to a regular-season lineup. The final three games of the preseason are going to be about testing that out.
"Just by nature, there's so much competition in certain areas," Hakstol said. "Some of what you saw today, no question, has a chance and I want to give a couple of things a few days and a game together at least to see where we're at. Maybe we need more with certain combinations, maybe we don't, but we're getting closer.
"The group that's left, every one of these guys could earn a spot, so it gets highly competitive now. It's been competitive. You want that. You want guys stepping forward, you want guys pushing to be in this group."
It says a lot that Vorobyev and Knight seem to have the edge over players like Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, Jori Lehtera and Weise. In the same sense, you also can’t forget about everybody else who remains in camp like Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Carsen Twarynski.
Defensively, Gostisbehere skated with Ivan Provorov, Robert Hagg skated with Christian Folin, Andrew MacDonald was paired with Radko Gudas and Phil Myers was paired with Mark Friedman. MacDonald said he’s feeling good in practices and is ahead of schedule.
The Flyers have a practice at 10:30 a.m. at Skate Zone on Sunday morning. Their next preseason game comes on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Bruins.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.