The expectation coming into this Sunday evening had been that the Flyers would announce their final roster cuts following the game. A third-period injury to defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere may have thrown a wrench into those plans, as the team’s final cut on defense has not come yet.
However, the Flyers did make some roster announcements, and the team’s forward group appears to be pretty set.
As had been expected following his absence from the lineup in three of the Flyers’ final four preseason games, Oskar Lindblom was the last cut up front, and he’ll be heading to Lehigh Valley for some indeterminate amount of time.
ROSTER UPDATE: Forward Oskar Lindblom has been assigned to the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, tonight.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 2, 2017
At this time a week ago, it would’ve been pretty hard to imagine Lindblom not making the Flyers. He’d put up two points in four preseason games, he was on the top power play, and he certainly looked the part of an NHLer. But he was out of the lineup last Monday in a loss to the Rangers, and despite scoring a power-play goal the next night, Lindblom wasn’t heard from again in the preseason. The sight of him skating on Saturday with the “scratch line” of Jori Lehtera and Matt Read seemed to suggest his fate was sealed.
BSH Radio co-host Charlie O’Connor asked GM Ron Hextall about Lindblom’s odd preseason trajectory after Sunday’s announcement, and it seems like the team just wanted to see a bit more out of him in these games.
Hextall's answer to my question regarding the split between the first half of Lindblom's camp and 2nd half, when he was sparsely-used. pic.twitter.com/QieguHlRWi— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) October 2, 2017
It’ll be interesting to see how long Lindblom is in Lehigh Valley. In his only other stint with the Phantoms — an eight-game run at the end of the 2015-16 season — Lindblom was one of the best players on the team, tallying two goals and five assists in eight games. If he heads up to Allentown and has another run like that, one has to think that he won’t be long for the AHL, but we’ll see.
Lindblom’s trip to Lehigh Valley did, however, signal good news for Nolan Patrick, who was officially told he has made the Flyers tonight.
See you in San Jose, @nolan_patrick19 pic.twitter.com/yitaZKa2EK— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 2, 2017
While Patrick didn’t light up the scoreboard night in and night out during the preseason, it seems clear he showed enough in every area of the ice to make this team. His Flyers career will begin on Wednesday, and it’s still mind-boggling that he’s in this organization to begin with. Let’s enjoy it.
Taylor Leier, who would have been subject to waivers had he not made the team, has also made the team, and he figures to start the season on the fourth line alongside Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl.
The waters are still a bit muddied when it comes to the defense, but we do know that any sort of decision left to be made won’t involve Robert Hagg, who was confirmed to have made the team tonight as well.
Someone's all smiles ☺️ pic.twitter.com/qUxPqzr6WL— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 2, 2017
After a year in the SHL and three years with the Phantoms, it seemed like this was finally Hagg’s time to break camp with this roster. Still, it’s been quite a hike back up for the Swedish blueliner in the past year, after a nightmarish 2015-16 season that seemed to drop him to the bottom of the defensive prospect pecking order, and he earned his spot here with a preseason in which he was steady and reliable almost every night.
With Hagg on the roster and with no evidence that the team is likely to try and force either of Brandon Manning or Andrew MacDonald through waivers, the likelihood here is that the team planned to send one of Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim — both of whom were scratches tonight — to the Phantoms following tonight’s game. But the team didn’t plan on Shayne Gostisbehere getting injured in the final period of the preseason, and as such it looks like both of those guys have earned a stay for the time being.
Hextall says it’s likely all three rookie defensemen go to California— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) October 2, 2017
If this is the case, then considering the 23-man roster limit, all three defensemen going to California could end in one of three ways:
- Ghost begins the season on injured reserve, opening up an extra roster spot for the Flyers for at least seven days (meaning Ghost would miss the team’s first four games of the season, or the entire road trip).
- The Flyers start the season with eight defensemen and 13 forwards, which would mean another forward would be waived tomorrow or Tuesday.
- Ghost makes the trip and ends up being healthy to play, and the Flyers send one of the defensemen back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday when the rosters have to be in place. (Get those frequent flyer miles, baby.)
Even if Ghost isn’t able to start the opener, and the team brings both Morin and Sanheim to California, the team will probably have to put its cards on the table pretty quickly, as someone’s going to have to sit in the opener and it’s likely that whoever’s sitting in that game is the one who will be the odd man out once Gostisbehere is healthy.
The preseason’s over. Meaningful hockey is almost here. Our roster is almost finalized. Let’s go.