Flyers Training Camp Preview: What Piques Our Attention?

Flyers group pic

Ahead of the start of the 2021-2022 Philadelphia Flyers Training Camp, these four topics pique our interest!

It’s Thursday. You know what that means…

The Philadelphia Flyers take to the ice for their 2021-2022 training camp.

At the beginning of the week, Alain Vigneault addressed the status of different players’ health. We learned that Kevin Hayes would miss six to eight weeks, Wade Allison is out indefinitely, and that Samuel Morin’s injury isn’t significant, but he’ll also miss six to eight weeks. The mood has changed a little bit, but the Flyers’ prospects are knocking on opportunities’ door.

Philadelphia will rely on the usage of veteran free agents and young prospects to start 2021-2022. Last season, the Flyers fell apart at the seams. Not only is it a season for redemption for the players who struggled in 2020-2021, but it’s also a clean slate. The prospects who played last season want to show they’ve matured. Players injured a season ago need to contribute and stay healthy.

Will Chuck Fletcher recall Cam York or Yegor Zamula? Where will Morgan Frost fit in the lineup? Does Claude Giroux return to his natural role where Hayes would’ve been? These are a few items of interest ahead of training camp.

Who’s The 7th Man?

Let’s not assume that Cam York or Yegor Zamula will remain with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They may not be on the opening night roster for the Philadelphia Flyers, but it’s worth noting that they could fill in on the third line. The defenseman in rotation with whoever is named the seventh man is likely Justin Braun.

Standing in for Samuel Morin as the seventh defenseman and healthy scratch will likely be Adam Clendening. York and Zamula need a fluid start to their season and missing ice time isn’t the correct operation.

Braun is in the last year of his contract. Signing him to a multi-year deal was an allergic reaction to Matt Niskanen and his departure. It isn’t likely he plays the entire season. Alain Vigneault could be wise to put Braun on a rotation throughout the season, resting him to preserve him. If Clendening, who hasn’t played in the NHL since 2018-2019, doesn’t suffice, Zamula is my go-to to rotate with Braun until Morin is healthy.

Zamula is waivers-exempt, so there isn’t any risk in transitioning him from the Flyers back to the Phantoms.

The same things apply to York in this scenario, too. Both defensemen are top prospects in Lehigh Valley. In Philadelphia, the makeup of the defense may require another defensive defenseman. Between the two, Zamula is a better fit.

Finding Our Center

Before Alain Vigneault shared the news about Kevin Hayes’ injury status, the question regarding the center position revolved around Morgan Frost and if he would be on the third or fourth line. Now, Frost rocket into a top-six role, leaving 4C empty.

Claude Giroux is a determining factor in how the lineup will look on opening night. Does Vigneault feel more comfortable keeping him at 1LW? Maybe. Or maybe Giroux takes over 2C, reformatting the entire forward makeup.

Here is how the forwards could lineup on opening night:

Scott Laughton at 4C isn’t ideal on opening night. There is a valid point that sheltering Frost’s minutes doesn’t help. The transition of Laughton to 4C does make for a physical fourth line, however…

Keeping Giroux at 1LW makes the offense more potent throughout the lineup. In doing so, Frost can mix in the top-six amongst most of the Philadelphia Flyers’ powerplay forwards. Scoring and forechecking aren’t sacrificed in the bottom-six either. Derick Brassard is a slick, veteran playmaker who could propel Oskar Lindblom.

Sandin On Opening Night?

Linus Sandin deserves attention. Wade Allison is out indefinitely, which means there is a role suited for a prospect to make their mark. Sandin, an RFA at the end of 2021-2022, should get his chance with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel are the natural right-wingers left on the Flyers roster. Everyone else is primarily centers or left-wingers. It’s the one offensive position where Philadelphia doesn’t have appropriate depth. Sandin was sturdy during rookie camp. In the bottom six, he has a chance.

During rookie camp, Sandin was one of the better forechecking forwards. He doesn’t sacrifice offensive firepower, either. Allison plays a more energetic, agitating brand of hockey, but Sandin fits on the third line with James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton. In the middle-six with Atkinson ahead, Sandin ought to mature his two-hundred-foot game.

In either version of the above lineups, Sandin could establish a connection with Oskar Lindblom. Two players of the same nationality playing similar styles of hockey could improve line synergy.

Vigneault has been generous with opportunities previously, which gives more reason to believe Sandin could earn his shot.

Homegrown Goaltending

Ideally, the Philadelphia Flyers will not rely on yearly free agency leases to combine efforts with Carter Hart. Brian Elliott was serviceable before moving on to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, when Hart isn’t occupying the crease, the team relies on Martin Jones.

In the past few seasons, Jones hasn’t been any better than Elliott. The latter was the cheaper option of the two goaltenders in 2021-2022. Kim Dillabaugh is the glue required to repair Jones. Due to that reunion, Jones and Hart isn’t a downgrade. Combined, they’re about as good on paper as a season ago.

Hart won’t be the same goaltender from a season ago. A bounce-back season means he proves doubters that he’s the franchise goaltender we know he is.

Within the system, the Flyers did sign Samuel Ersson to an entry-level contract through 2024.

Eventually, Philadelphia should promote from within to back up Hart. Simply relying on Ersson instead of Jones would have placed the Flyers at nearly $1.5mil in available cap space. That’s critical in the flat cap era. While not a training camp battle, it’s worth monitoring Ersson and Kirill Ustimenko in the AHL.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre