And the Flyers’ final roster is….
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the third period of the Flyers’ 5-2 preseason loss to the visiting New York Islanders on Sunday, complicating the team’s decision on roster cuts.
The Flyers will start the season with at least four rookies. Nolan Patrick, Taylor Leier, and Robert Hagg have secured spots, and rookies Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim figure to land a spot on defense.
They did send left winger Oskar Lindblom to the AHL’s Phantoms, trimming the roster to 24. The team needs to get down to 23 players by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
But until the Flyers know the severity of Gostisbehere’s injury — general manager Ron Hextall said it could take a day or two, which might mean they want to rule out a concussion — they will carry eight defensemen.
“I’m going to keep you guys guessing for another day or so,” Hextall said about the last roster cut.
The Flyers open the season in San Jose on Wednesday, and Hextall said the eight defensemen on the roster will probably make the trip.
Before Gostisbehere’s injury, it appeared either Sanheim or Morin would be sent to the Phantoms. Since Morin has more AHL experience, Sanheim — despite an outstanding training camp in which he shared the team lead with three goals — is more likely to return to Lehigh Valley.
“When you look at a career of a young player, going to the minors is OK,” Hextall said. “It’s not a death sentence. You’re still a pro hockey player. You’re one injury [away] from a call-up.”
Lindblom, 21, who starred in Sweden last season, had a goal and an assist while playing in four preseason games. He sat out three of the last four games.
Hextall said Lindblom “didn’t produce the way he’s capable of,” but “played well and did a lot of good little things.”
The Flyers want Lindblom to get acclimated to the smaller North American rinks.
Sending him down “is not tough,” Hextall said. “Oskar did a good job in camp … That’s one thing you try to punctuate with young players: ‘You didn’t fail. You had a good camp, but right now the best thing for you and the team is for you to go up there and play well.’ ”
Hextall said Lindblom took the news “very well. Oskar’s a good player…He’ll be fine. You’re talking about a kid who came from a big rink [last year] and played extremely well.”
If there was an injury in a month or so, would Hextall be reluctant to recall Lindblom?
“When you’re the last player sent down, that should tell you something right there,” Hextall said.
Patrick, who had three assists and no goals in the seven preseason games, will begin the season centering Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds on the No. 2 line.
“It was short and sweet,” Patrick said about meeting with Hextall after the game and being told he had made the team. “Growing up, my goal was to play in the NHL, so to hear that news is pretty exciting, and I know my family is pretty excited for me.”
The speedy Leier will play left wing on the fourth line, which includes Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl. Those three played tenaciously and composed the Flyers’ best line in Sunday’s loss.
Breakaways. The Flyers went 1 for 6 on the power play, with Simmonds tipping in Gostisbehere’s drive …Val Filppula was on the first power-play unit, filling the spot held last season by Brayden Schenn (17 power-play goals), who was dealt to St. Louis … Raffl converted a two-on-one feed from Laughton for the Flyers’ first goal … Brian Elliott allowed two poor goals in the loss … Hextall: “We’re not going to keep a young player to sit on the bench for the first 30 games, I can tell you that.”…The Flyers, who finished 3-2-3 in the preseason, might have to try to send a veteran forward to the Phantoms if Gostisbehere is sidelined and they need to open a roster spot … The Flyers haven’t had five rookies start a season since 1992-93.