Yesterday, the Flyers officially sent Sam Morin, Taylor Leier and Colin McDonald down to their AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms. That left 26 healthy players in camp battling for 23 spots.
We can now cut the number of healthy players down to 24.
The Flyers announced today that forward Scott Laughton and defenseman Brandon Manning both suffered injuries that will keep them out for extended periods of time. Laughton may be out for up to a month, while Manning’s injury is week-to-week.
Team updates: Laughton is out 3-4 weeks w/ lower-body injury. Manning is week-to-week w/ upper-body injury. More → https://t.co/86XjSScy11— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 6, 2016
Laughton was already having something of an underwhelming camp prior to the injury that he suffered during yesterday’s practice. Manning, on the other hand, has played in just one preseason game (9/26) during camp. Hakstol hinted yesterday that the defenseman had been battling injury for the past week, so this could just be an admission that injury is more serious than originally believed.
Today’s news provides clarity regarding the battles for spots on the Flyers’ roster. With neither player expected to be ready for next Friday’s opener in Los Angeles and both seemingly out for at least an additional week past that point, Laughton and Manning will probably both be placed on injured reserve, meaning that they will not take up spots on the roster. That leaves 24 players battling for 23 spots.
Ivan Provorov was already looking like a lock to make the roster, but this probably cements his chances. With only seven healthy defenseman left in camp, the Flyers would be forced to recall a player they already sent to the AHL (such as Sam Morin, Will O’Neill or T.J. Brennan) in order to replace him. That seems unlikely since Provorov has clearly already proven to the organization that he exceeds the players who have been cut in terms of current ability.
As for the forwards, Laughton’s injury means that only one more player needs to be cut. Four players remain a realistic option to be the odd-man-out — Travis Konecny, Chris VandeVelde, Roman Lyubimov and Jordan Weal. Konecny is obviously the most exciting name of the four, and while this injury makes his road map to a roster spot a bit less bumpy, he’s still not a lock. He’ll need to continue his strong play over the final preseason games to truly earn a job.
It’s possible that the team might choose to only place Laughton on injured reserve and keep the banged-up Manning on the active roster. If that is the case, two forwards would be sent down/back to juniors instead of one. But considering the fact that Manning’s injury was described as “week-to-week,” which implies a degree of seriousness, the best guess is that injured reserve is where he’ll land to start the year.
In any case, the Flyers’ roster picture looks a lot clearer now than it did yesterday. Most likely, just one more cut will be needed in order for the final 23-man roster to take shape.