After sending seven players to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday, the Flyers’ have to make only a few decisions to finalize their roster.
The Flyers have 26 players left in camp. They plan to carry 23 players when the season starts Oct. 4 in San Jose, so they need to trim only three from the roster.
Getting the roster pared so quickly was by design, general manager Ron Hextall said.
“We have four [exhibition] games left, and our big guys have to play,” he said after the camp session Saturday in Voorhees. “We’re getting ready for the season now and there are still players in the mix, but you get down as quick as you can and go from there.”
Speedy left winger Taylor Leier, center Mike Vecchione, and a defenseman — rookies Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, and Travis Sanheim are battling for two open spots — are the leading candidates to begin the season in Lehigh Valley.
“We have a deep roster right now and spots are hard to come by,” Hextall said. “We have a tough roster to crack now, which is good for us.”
Asked if there was a chance all three rookie defensemen could make the team and push a veteran off the roster, Hextall said, “We’re going to monitor the situation as we go along. We’ll see what we have with injuries and whatnot and we’ll make decisions at the appropriate time. They’ve all played well. They’re still out here for a reason. We could have sent one of them down if they didn’t deserve to be here, but at this point they all deserve to be here.”
At camp Saturday, Hagg was paired with Ivan Provorov, Sanheim was with Radko Gudas, and Morin was with Andrew MacDonald. The other pairing: Shayne Gostisbehere and Brandon Manning.
Vecchione is battling Scott Laughton for the fourth center spot, and both are expected to play in Monday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Laughton would have to clear waivers if the Flyers tried to send him to the Phantoms, so he is expected to stay with the big club.
The fact that the roster is almost set enables the Flyers to get in sync in the last 10 days of camp.
“I think getting some chemistry is the biggest thing,” Gostisbehere said. “A lot of teams keep so many guys in camp and I think that makes it hard to get off to a good start. But this allows us to get some chemistry together.”
The seven players the Flyers sent to Lehigh Valley on Saturday: Defensemen T.J. Brennan of Moorestown, Mark Alt, and Will O’Neill; goalie Alex Lyon, who had a 3.24 goals-against average in three exhibition games; and forwards Greg Carey, Corban Knight, and Phil Varone.
Hextall also announced that forwards Cole Bardreau and Colin McDonald are injured and will miss several weeks. Bardreau (upper-body injury) will be sidelined for three or four weeks, said Hextall, who did not have a time frame for McDonald (lower-body injury), but he said he would miss “weeks.”
When healthy, the forwards will play for the Phantoms.
Breakaways. Claude Giroux played left wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek on Saturday. The second line had Nolan Patrick centering Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds….The Flyers worked on their power play for the first time in camp. They were 0 for 9 with an extra skater in a 2-1 overtime loss in Boston on Thursday.