Flyers Training Camp Update: More Clarity in Roster Battles
Just two games remain in the preseason for the Flyers and with only 33 players left on the roster, line combinations can start to provide a little more insight and clarity into what the lineup could be on opening night.
The Flyers returned to the ice for practice on Wednesday after an off day on Tuesday and there a few notable findings in the lines at practice.
Here were the forward lines:
Claude Giroux-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Jake Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Mikhail Vorobyev-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Jordan Weal-Dale Weise
Carsen Twarynski/Tyrell Goulbourne-Corban Knight-Taylor Leier
Scott Laughton getting bumped to the top line is interesting, but anyone who has filled the top center role has been nothing more than a placeholder for Sean Couturier.
Couturier’s condition is becoming more of a concern though. He left Saturday’s practice early and Ron Hextall’s update on Couturier on Sunday was soreness. The problem is Couturier hasn’t skated since Saturday morning, and briefly at that. Now that he’s missed three days of ice time, it’s highly unlikely he’ll play in a game before Saturday’s preseason finale in Boston.
Hextall said the goal is for Couturier to play, but "if it's Vegas, it's Vegas."
It’s not that Couturier needs a preseason game necessarily, but when the update was just general soreness and a preseason game was still in the cards, you would like to see Couturier get a game over the next couple of days.
The same goes for Wayne Simmonds, who hasn't played in the preseason yet either. The goal is for both to play the preseason finale and be ready for the regular season.
Otherwise, the Flyers seem to have their top-nine relatively set at this point. Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny have played together for several days. The second line of James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek has been an ongoing site at training camp. And the third line of Oskar Lindblom, Mikhail Vorobyev and Simmonds has been a more regular sight lately too.
It’s seems as if Vorobyev has just about locked up a spot on the roster. He’s been given every opportunity to make it and has risen to the occasion.
With Laughton moved to the first line temporarily, there was a reconstructed fourth line. On Wednesday, it featured Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal and Dale Weise.
If those three are the final placeholders on the roster, it would leave the five players in the hunt for one remaining roster spot -- Corban Knight, Jori Lehtera, Taylor Leier, Carsen Twarynski and Tyrell Goulbourne. Knight, Leier, Twarynski and Goulbourne rotated on a fifth line. Lehtera was not on the ice for practice amid reports that he is a suspect in a large-scale Finnish cocaine bust.
Hextall issued a statement prior to meeting the media and offered no additional comment.
"We have spoken with Jori Lehtera and the league office regarding the reports out of Finland, and will reserve any further comment on the matter at this time," Hextall said in the statement.
Goulbourne was placed on waivers, which means he’s headed to the Phantoms should he clear Thursday. That would bring the Flyers roster to 32 players.
Now to the defensemen. There were some interesting pairing there as well. Here’s how they skated on Wednesday:
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Andrew MacDonald-Radko Gudas
Travis Sanheim-Christian Folin
Robert Hagg-Mark Friedman
There’s nothing really all that interesting about the top pairing or the second pairing for that matter. It’s good to see Travis Sanheim back in a regular rotation. He might be close to getting back into a preseason game.
What was interesting was seeing Robert Hagg essentially skating as an odd-man out. Mark Friedman is the only other defenseman in camp and figures to be sent to the Phantoms in the coming days. The Flyers will carry seven defensemen on the final roster, which would leave Hagg out of the lineup.
Hagg has received regular playing time all preseason and noted on Sunday that he feels like the amount he’s played in the preseason will have him in midseason form when the regular season begins. It seems there may be a chance he’s not even in the lineup based on these pairings.
The three healthy goalies in Flyers camp once again participated in practice as well. There is no indication as to who will be playing on Thursday night against the Rangers.
All eyes remain on Carter Hart. As long as the odds may be that he makes the team -- the Flyers would prefer to start him in the AHL for additional development -- he’s still here and both Hextall and Dave Hakstol have noted that any player still left in camp at this stage has a chance because they have earned it.
The Flyers are back in action on Thursday night against the New York Rangers in the final game at Wells Fargo Center this preseason. Game time is at 7 p.m.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.