After eight days of training camp and five exhibition games, the Flyers have made their first roster assessments and released 28 players. There aren’t too many surprises on the list, as the majority are young prospects that did not see any preseason action.
Tryout Bill Guerin, as expected, is still with the team. The Ville Leino-Danny Briere-Scott Hartnell line is expected to stay intact at the beginning of the season (presuming that Leino is cleared to play). Forwards Claude Giroux and Nikolai Zherdev have shown great chemistry thus far, and a Giroux-Richards-Zherdev line could be in the works as Richards would help offset Zherdev’s defensive liabilities. By default, that leaves a James VanRiemsdyk-Jeff Carter-Bill Guerin line, although there’s still some flexibility there. I don’t think I have to say it, but these forwards will make the Flyers very dangerous next season.
The fourth line is still a big question mark, as a Guerin signing will force someone out of the line-up. Blair Betts, if he doesn’t start the season on the long term injury reserve list, is a lock as is the toughest player in the NHL, Ian Laperriere. That leaves enforcer Jody Shelley, agitator Dan Carcillo, and grinder Darroll Powe as the odd men out. If the Flyers maintain eight defensemen for the season (which seems unlikely), one of these gentlemen will be placed on waivers. Powe has been making a case for himself with two preseason goals, while Carcillo has been merely adequate. Carcillo has more offensive upside than Shelley, but the Flyers signed Shelley during the offseason with long-term expectations.
The prospects who were given a look during the preseason before being released include Greg Moore, Matt Clackson, Andrew Rowe, and Zac Rinaldo. Moore and Rowe could turn into gems with proper development, but Clackson is unlikely to be much more than a fourth liner in the NHL and Rinaldo is an unpredictable liability. The forwards still at camp include prospects Mike Testwuide, Ben Holmstrom, Eric Wellwood and David Laliberte along with Phantoms Jon Kalinski and Andreas Nodl. On defense, the Flyers will continue to assess Oskars Bartulis and Matt Walker as well as prospects Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, and Joonas Lehtivouri.
In light of injuries to goaltenders Johan Backlund and possibly Michael Leighton, there is a possibility that prospect Sergei Bobrovsky may see time in the NHL much earlier than expected. He played the entirety of Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild and got the win in the shootout (the fourth in as many games). I’m very surprised that, with the goaltender carousel we saw last season, goaltending prospects Nicola Riopel and Brian Stewart were released before seeing any time in preseason games. Riopel is a highly touted prospect with a lot of skill, and getting an idea of where he stands with the organization as injuries accrue seems like it would have been a no-brainer.
The Flyers travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to face the Devils for the second time this preseason.