Flyers’ Ronnie Attard Making Case for NHL Roster Spot in 2022-23

The Philadelphia Flyers have been busy injecting youth into their lineup since the trade deadline, especially after the NCAA wrapped up their season. It has been an exciting preview of what these young and talented players can show, providing glimpses of their skill and production.

Related: Flyers Should Stick With Defensive Core for 2022-23 Season

Ronnie Attard is one of those new members of the Flyers. He recently signed an entry-level deal once his college season came to an end. He is one of the only young blueliners, along with Cam York, who have come in and challenged for a spot. With York solidifying his position on the Flyers’ roster for next season, Attard is likely to join him.

Attard’s Impact in NHL Trial

Attard has been placed in a third-pairing role and has been able to produce in his five games despite averaging under 16 minutes a night and playing with low-impact defencemen.

His first game wasn’t the best in terms of defending, as he was a minus-four; however, he was even in the next four games. Of course, it’s tough to be a positive player on a team that has a minus-68 goal differential (from “Flyers defenseman Ronnie Attard has proved to be resilient despite some early struggles,”The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/6/22). But that stat is also less important than some may think. Attard doesn’t panic with the puck and has just one giveaway in five games – and not in the defensive zone. He plays somewhat physically and is willing to block shots but doesn’t do either a ton.

Ronnie Attard Philadelphia Flyers
Ronnie Attard, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

His offensive skill-set is worth getting excited about. He recorded his first assist in his third game and scored his first career goal in his fifth game. Known for his offensive ability in college, Attard adds an aggressive offensive style of play that focuses on keeping the puck as close to the opposition’s net as possible. He has started to show this talent, and that’s exactly what the Flyers need moving forward. His size helps as well, and he is able to combine an active stick in the defensive zone with some physicality.

Internal Options for the Flyers’ Defense

Now that the Flyers have been officially eliminated from the postseason, they’ve had the freedom to test out some new combinations. The most likely pairing is Ivan Provorov with Ryan Ellis, but since Ellis won’t play again this season, Travis Sanheim is getting playing time on the first pairing beside Provorov right now.

This may be to see how they play together or reward Sanheim for a good season, but it may also be to see how York and Rasmus Ristolainen play together, especially given the possibility that Provorov or Sanheim might be traded in the next year. Sanheim has one year remaining on his deal and Provorov has been on a decline the past couple of year, while York is set to take on a top-four role permanently very soon.

Cam York Philadelphia Flyers
Cam York, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Keith Yandle most likely will not be back with the team next season. He was signed to add some offence and help out on the power play. With Ellis back and York with the team along with Provorov, Yandle and his minus-41 are not needed. The Flyers have shifted toward a younger roster, so why not give another young defenceman a good opportunity to make an impact.

Nick Seeler and Kevin Connauton are seventh defencemen on expiring contracts. It’s unknown if either will be back, but if one of them does return, they shouldn’t take a spot away from the player who’s the focus of this article, Attard.

The only Flyers’ prospect I could see competing for a spot with Attard is Egor Zamula. He only played one game this season, is one year younger, and still has one year left on his entry-level deal. However, Attard has the upper hand, having played college for three seasons and being much more filled out, weighing 31 pounds more than Zamula at the same height.

Should the Flyers Sign a Free-Agent Defenseman?

The question of if the Flyers should go out and pay for a defenceman in free agency depends on the market and who is available. They will have some money to work with, but it remains to be seen if they are going to use it to upgrade the forwards or defence. The expectation will be to add a more impactful player upfront since they lost Claude Giroux. The team didn’t lose anyone big on the back-end and they are already paying four players over $22.75 million next season.

Since the Flyers are leaning towards youth to make an impact, York and Attard can provide great value on their entry-level deals and allow the team to use the cap space where it’s needed most. It would be a waste to spend a big chunk of money on a third-pairing defenceman to replace Attard.

Ronnie Attard Philadelphia Flyers
Ronnie Attard, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Management might consider planning for injury or for Ellis to miss time – since he hasn’t been able to stay healthy throughout his career – and sign a player to a one or two-year deal to be a safety net as Justin Braun was this season. The Flyers shouldn’t commit to anyone long-term who would take away that opportunity from Attard or Zamula. Teams that utilize players on entry-level contracts and cheap deals typically do better each season.

At the very least, Attard should be in consideration for a permanent roster spot in Philadelphia next season. If his trial period continues to go well and he shows improvement, the team should be in good hands with their top-six defensemen going into next season.

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