The Philadelphia Flyers announced their final roster on Tuesday with some surprises that most analysts wouldn’t have predicted entering training camp. The John Tortorella era will begin on Thursday night in Philadelphia against the New Jersey Devils. Cam Atkinson will miss the regular-season opener, allowing the lineup to take better shape with a lot to prove after consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Roster Players: Cam Atkinson, Noah Cates, Nicolas Deslauriers, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Kevin Hayes, Hayden Hodgson, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Owen Tippett, James van Riemsdyk, Bobby Brink (injured non-roster list), Patrick Brown (injured non-roster list), Sean Couturier (injured reserve), Artem Anisiomov (professional tryout contract)
It’s no secret that the Flyers lack offensive firepower. General manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher himself acknowledged the lack of top-end talent on the roster last November with former captain Claude Giroux and a healthy Sean Couturier still on the active roster. The Flyers will count on players like Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Travis Konecny to play roles as primary scorers when they’re best suited to play lower in the lineup.
Joel Farabee will start the season in the lineup after most offseason updates indicated that a neck injury would keep him out through the early weeks of the regular season. Although Cam Atkinson practiced with the team on Wednesday, he will miss the opener with a day-to-day injury designation. The two wingers have as much goal-scoring acumen as anyone on the roster.
Related: Flyers 2022-23 Season Preview: Power Play
Noah Cates made the strongest impression of any Flyers player during training camp. His ability to win puck battles and stifle opposing rushes impressed the coaching staff. After playing most of the preseason on the wing, he will play center to start the season, a move that Tortorella indicated is not just a short-term fix. While his older brother Jackson also made an impression during training camp and the preseason, he ultimately couldn’t win the fourth-line center position from Tanner Laczynski. He will begin the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Laczynski (25), Hayden Hodgson (26), and Wade Allison (turning 25 on Friday) make up a group of inexperienced NHL players who will need to prove their value quickly if they expect to factor into the organization’s long-term plans. All three stuck on the forward corps while 26-year-old Zack MacEwen failed to make the final roster with 130 NHL games under his belt.
Fletcher spoke about his young players on Wednesday, saying “Some of these players now are young, but they’ve had some experience, players like (Morgan) Frost and (Owen) Tippett for example. Even Allison and Laczynski are 25 now. At some point, you’ve got to grab that opportunity, and you’ve got to rise above (adversity that comes along).”
Roster Players: Ronnie Attard, Justin Braun, Tony DeAngelo, Ivan Provorov, Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanheim, Nick Seeler, Ryan Ellis (long-term injured reserve)
The Flyers will continue to use Ivan Provorov as the rock on the left side of their top defensive pairing after the past two seasons haven’t played out well for the 25-year-old Russian. He will begin the season next to newcomer Tony DeAngelo, who is also expected to quarterback the top power-play unit. Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen will play on the second pair. The organization lauded their chemistry during the 2021-22 season when the other two pairs persisted as major weaknesses for the team.
The third pair was the real storyline of the defensive corps during training camp. The surprising demotion of Cam York to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms left an unexpected hole on the left side. The Flyers kept eight defensemen. Right-hander Justin Braun and left-hander Nick Seeler account for the remaining veterans, while righty Ronnie Attard and lefty Egor Zamula account for the prospects.
Zamula put on 12 pounds during the offseason to address questions about his physical durability at the NHL level. After skating with Justin Braun in practice on Wednesday, he is the likeliest defenseman to earn the final spot on the third pair. His ability to break the puck out of the defensive zone is an attractive quality for a team that failed to possess the puck outside their own zone often enough last season.
“He (Zamula) has great poise with the puck. He sees the ice so well. He’s got great length and reach. He put on about 10 pounds of muscle this summer. He can still continue to get stronger, but for right now after two years in the American League, I’m kind of excited to see what he can do up here. Let’s see if we can develop him more up here versus just another season in the American League. That’ll be up to him and how he plays.”-Chuck Fletcher
Seeler’s performance in 43 games last season didn’t indicate his merit as a full-time NHL player, and he will play a depth role with some grit and toughness that members of the organization have pointed out as one of his greatest strengths. Braun won’t fit into the long-term plans of the organization. While his $1.75 million will keep him on the NHL roster, the Flyers shouldn’t be afraid to scratch the veteran in his 13th NHL season to give Attard his shot early in the season. York will also be in line as a potential call-up if he makes strides with the Phantoms.
Roster Players: Samuel Ersson, Carter Hart, Felix Sandström (injured non-roster)
All indications suggest Carter Hart will be ready to start on opening night after missing the entirety of the preseason slate with a lower-body injury. He will have to take the brunt of the workload with a total of nine NHL games between the rest of the goaltenders within the organization. The Flyers cannot realistically count on contributions from Ivan Fedotov during the 2022-23 season and probably not at any point in the future.
Samuel Ersson outperformed expectations during his first NHL training camp and his first game action in North America. Felix Sandström’s injury opened the door for him to jump up the depth chart, and the Flyers decided to hand the backup spot in the short term to a prospect with a higher ceiling than veteran Troy Grosenick, who will provide organizational depth between the pipes with the Phantoms. When Sandström returns from a short-term precautionary absence, Ersson will likely join Grosenick in Lehigh Valley.