Sbisa, Palin (Palin!) are in

Luca Sbisa, the 18-year-old defenseman who was the Flyers' No. 1 pick in the June draft, will be on the club's opening-night roster, general manger Paul Holmgren said today.

The Flyers can keep Sbisa for as many as nine games and then send him to juniors. If he is on the Flyers’ roster for 10 or more games, he must be on it for the entire season.

Asked if Sbisa would stay on the roster for the whole season if he performed well in the first few weeks, Holmgren was non-committal.

“It’s something we’ll have to monitor on a daily basis and see how he’s doing,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone expected Luca to be here this long; we all felt he was a good prospect and he’s certainly done better than anyone expected _ and that’s a good thing.”

For the time being, the Flyers will carry three goalies because they want to make sure Antero Niittymaki is healthy.

Niittymaki, who has recovered nicely from recent hip surgery, was cleared today by a doctor in Nashville, but the Flyers are playing it safe.

Here's how the roster looks:

Goalies: Marty Biron, Anetero Niittymaki and Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

Forwards: Arron Asham, Danny Briere, Jeff Carter, Riley Cote, Steve Downie, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, Glen Metropolit, Mike Richards and Scottie Upshall.

Defensemen: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Randy Jones, Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Lasse Kukkonen and Luca Sbisa.

Palin (not Poulin) at Flyers' opener

Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will drop the puck at Saturday night's opener against Rangers at the Wachovia Center.

In an e-mail sent to the Flyers and news organizations, a former season ticket holder said he was "appalled" that the club was using Saturday's NHL opener as "a billboard for political advertisement" by having Palin drop the first puck.

The fan wrote that those attending the game "should be able to check their political and ideological beliefs at the door and come together as one to support the Flyers. It is one of the last refuges we have for unbridled enjoyment. To invite an atmosphere of polarization and dissent amongst Flyers fans is appalling to me."

Ed Snider, the Flyers' chairman, said having Palin at the game has "nothing to do with politics." He said Palin was invited because of her comments about hockey moms.

"We were so excited when she talked about hockey moms in her acceptance speech," he said. "She did a great service to our sport.....This is all about having fun with what she said."

Still, it says here that Palin could have been asked to drop a puck AFTER the election and before the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.

That would have ended all appearances that the Flyers were using their arena for political purposes.