Congratulations, Flyers fans! You’ve almost made it through the off-season!
This summer has been way too long. But the good news is, it’s September 4th! September 4th means training camp is just around the corner, and training camp means that the start of the Flyers 2017-2018 season is almost upon us.
With exactly one month left until the first game, here are the players I’m predicting will be on the opening night roster.
The Definite (17)
Forwards: Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Valtteri Filppula, Jori Lehtera, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Dale Weise, Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal, Travis Konecny
Defense: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, Ivan Provorov
Goalies: Brian Elliot, Michal Neuvirth
There’s really no discussion to be had with any of these guys. Unless something crazy happens, these seventeen players will be part of the roster when the Flyers suit up against the Sharks.
The Probable (6)
Nolan Patrick – The only reason 2017 second overall draft pick Nolan Patrick is on the Probable list instead of the Definite list is his offseason surgery. Assuming he’s able to return to anything close to how he played before his injury, he’ll be on the roster.
Oskar Lindblom – Lindblom’s SHL career ended when he signed his NHL entry-level contract this past May, which means he’s going to be with either the Flyers or the Phantoms. Lindblom seems to be way too good to begin the season in the AHL and the Flyers are desperate for a scoring winger, so it’s probable that it’ll be the NHL for him.
Scott Laughton – Scott Laughton is a toss up. He’s had an up and down career, quite literally. But it’s obvious that Ron Hextall and the rest of the Flyers organization think highly of him, considering he was one of the players protected from the Vegas expansion draft and signed to a two-year extension in July. His new contract also forces the Flyers to put him on waivers in order to send him to the AHL, which is a risk they may not be willing to take. They still see potential in him, which should earn him an opening night roster spot.
Andrew MacDonald – While it’s fun to think that Hextall might decide to waive Mac in favor of keeping an additional younger defenseman, like Travis Sanheim, that’s unlikely to happen. Mac will probably be part of the Flyers come opening night, but it’s not impossible to think he’ll be with the Phantoms instead. It’s certainly nice to dream.
Robert Hagg – There seems to be a three-defensemen competition between Hagg, Morin and Sanheim for two roster spots. It’s difficult to predict which two of the three will actually make the roster. Although I don’t envy Hextall and Hakstol and everyone else who has to help make this decision, if I had to make the decision I’d go with Hagg over Sanheim simply because of experience. He’s a year older and therefore has more professional hockey experience.
Sam Morin – Sam Morin has been on the bubble of breaking into the NHL for about two years now. He finally got his shot at the end of last season, and it’s highly likely that he’s going to find himself in the NHL again this season. His size alone puts him above his competition, but he’s also a strong and steady player who’d complement a flashier player, like Gostisbehere, better than Sanheim. Sam is ready for the NHL.
The Long Shots (4)
Mike Vecchione – There’s no doubt in my mind that Vecchione will play at some point in the NHL this year, I just don’t think he’ll be on the opening night roster. He performed admirably at the end of last season, but he still has a lot of adjusting to do now that he’s making the jump from college to a full pro season. He’ll do much better down the road if he has some development time in the AHL.
Travis Sanheim – The decision between Sanheim, Morin and Hagg is a toss up, in my mind. It’s all about who shows up the most prepared. Assuming all three of them are ready to play in the NHL, the reason I chose Sanheim as the odd man out is simply because of age and experience. I’d certainly much rather see him in place of Andy Mac. Hey… a girl can dream!
Philippe Myers – Myers could absolutely show up to training camp this month NHL-ready. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit, especially after watching him play during development camp. His biggest challenge, though, is the competition ahead of him. Morin, Hagg and Sanheim all have pro experience and all look ready to play for the Flyers. Myers unfortunately is just fourth on a list for two spots. If, somehow, someone shows up completely unprepared to training camp or someone gets injured during preseason, it’s possible Myers could find himself making his NHL debut in San Jose. It’s highly unlikely though, so don’t get your hopes up too high.
Taylor Leier – Leier and Laughton seem to be competing for the same spot on the Flyers roster. Both signed contract extensions this summer, and both will need to go through waivers before they’re able to be sent to the Phantoms. The reason I chose Laughton over Leier to make the roster is simply because I think the Flyers have more faith and interest in Laughton than they have in Leier. I wouldn’t be surprised if the chips fall either way, but I’m predicting Laughton to make the team and Leier to start the season in Lehigh Valley. Assuming he clears waivers first.
So what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know on Twitter what you think about this roster.