Friday, February 12, 2016

5 things to watch in Flyers' camp

With training camp set to begin with physicals Friday, here are five things to watch:

5 things to watch in Flyers' camp

The Flyers signed Bill Guerin to a tryout contract. Will he make the team? (AP File Photo / Gene J. Puskar)
The Flyers signed Bill Guerin to a tryout contract. Will he make the team? (AP File Photo / Gene J. Puskar)

With training camp set to begin with physicals Friday, here are five things to watch:

The Flyers signed veteran free agent Bill Guerin to a tryout contract on Monday but he is free to leave at any point during camp to sign with another team. Will Guerin, who turns 40 in November, carve out a spot for himself on the roster? His arrival could mean the waiving of Darroll Powe or Dan Carcillo. Plus, a contract would need to find under the salary cap. There are few downsides to a player fresh off a 45-point season with 426 career goals and 20 seasons worth of experience.

Yes, the Flyers were lucky that their top four defensemen of Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn missed just a combined three games last season. But they can't afford to keep eight defensemen on the active roster. Will they keep unreliable Oskars Bartulis? Or waive Bartulis to the Phantoms and keep NHL vets Matt Walker ($1.7 million salary, acquired for Simon Gagne) and Sean O'Donnell ($1.3 million salary, free agent).

Will Sergei Bobrovsky show enough in training camp - his first real introduction to pro hockey in North America - to warrant consideration for the backup spot. He will undoubtedly see action in the preseason, giving the 22-year-old Russian with a $1.75 million contract a chance to win the job.

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When the Flyers acquired Andrej Meszaros from Tampa Bay in exchange for a draft pick on July 1, the price seemed cheap. We forgot about his 4-year, $4 million per contract that came with it. Meszaros could be awful expensive for a third or fourth defensemen, unless he plays more like a top pair player he once appeared to be.

This will be Nikolai Zherdev's second crack at the NHL: after five seasons with Columbus and the Rangers, he spent last year in Russia's KHL. The gifted scorer and former first round pick is just 24 and has bested 50 points in a season three out of five times. He has questions surrounding his commitment to defense and his work ethic in both games and practices.

Honorable Mention: Chris Pronger's health, the continued development of James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux, the questionable addition of Jody Shelley and Ville Leino's return from playoff superstardom.

Check out our complete Flyers training camp preview in Friday's Daily News. 

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