Philadelphia Flyers hockey is back. Training Camp will begin today with the team practicing in two groups at 11:00 AM, followed by a scrimmage.
The Flyers released their Training Camp roster over the weekend, giving us just a few short days to digest everything. This will be a unique training camp for all 31 NHL teams, the Flyers included. It is an extremely short camp for a shortened season against the same opponents.
But it’s still hockey.
The Flyers have 22 forwards on their camp roster, but not all of them can make the team. Let’s break them down into different categories to try to make sense of things.
Sean Couturier (C), Claude Giroux (C), Kevin Hayes (C), Travis Konecny (RW), Jakub Voracek (RW)
This is the core. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek lead the way as the longest-tenured Flyers. They were the top line last season and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them back together again this year.
Travis Konecny (who turns 24 in March) is slowly losing the “young” tag as part of the “young core.” He’s coming off three straight 24-goal seasons and a career-high 61 points (in 66 games) last year.
Kevin Hayes is looking to continue to make an impact in his second season as a Flyer. He’s carved out a nice role as the Flyers’ second-line center that plays in all situations.
These five should be in the Flyers’ top six all season long, with some possible outlier games if Alain Vigneault wants to mix things up. Couturier and Hayes are the top two centers, with Giroux, Konecny, and Voracek as three of the team’s top wingers.
Joel Farabee (LW), Scott Laughton (C), Oskar Lindblom (LW), James van Riemsdyk (LW)
These four are pretty much locked to make the lineup but have the ability to play anywhere from the top line to the fourth line – for the most part –, with them likely playing the majority of the season in the middle six.
Joel Farabee changed his jersey number to 86 and is looking to make a statement in his sophomore season. He experienced it all in his rookie season. From the top six to being sent down and everything in between, Farabee kept moving forward through it all. He’s definitely a candidate to play second-line left wing, but could easily slide down as well.
Scott Laughton joined Hayes and Konecny on a feisty second line last season. He could do the same this year if the Flyers’ bottom-six center depth is there, but he may end up slotting in as the third-line center. It all depends on Nolan Patrick and Morgan Frost, who we’ll get to in a bit.
Oskar Lindblom should be the second-line left wing. He made an inspirational recovery after his diagnosis just over a year ago and looks ready to go for the Flyers. It may take some time to get him up to speed, as it will for many others across the league without a preseason, but he has all the makings of a top-six winger.
James van Riemsdyk isn’t quite as versatile as the other three in this group but could see icetime anywhere from the top line to the fourth line. He would likely play in the top-six for many teams across the league as a scoring winger. However, he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs and will likely spend most of the season in the bottom six. Who knows, though; he could get a shot in the top six and catch fire.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RW), Michael Raffl (LW)
It was hard to leave these two out of the previous group because they’re not too far behind them and play a similar role.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel showed a lot of promise late last season and in the playoffs, but is down in the lineup due to a roster crunch. He may not be a top-line winger, but he may be good enough to be in the middle-six conversation.
Michael Raffl was the Flyers’ jack of all trades for the better part of a decade. We all remember that Raffl-Giroux-Voracek line, right? Well, over the past few years his role has decreased. He can still play up the lineup in a pinch, but he’ll likely settle into a fourth-line role. And it’s definitely not a bad thing to have a guy like Raffl on the fourth line.
Fighting for a spot
Andy Andreoff (C/LW), Connor Bunnaman (C), Morgan Frost (C), Samuel Morin (LW), Nolan Patrick (C)
Each of these players (well, four of them at least) have a different route to a spot in the lineup.
The taxi squad was made for Andy Andreoff. He’s a career NHL/AHL tweener that shouldn’t be needed on the Flyers roster.
Connor Bunnaman is going to be looking to lock down the fourth-line center role. He played well in that role leading up to the trade deadline. When Derek Grant and Nate Thompson were acquired, that pretty much ended Bunnaman’s hope of playing in the playoffs. Bunnaman needs to impress, and even then his spot in the lineup is up in the air depending on the status of a few other players.
One of those players that has an impact on Bunnaman is Morgan Frost. The skilled forward got a chance early last season, but couldn’t stick in the NHL. With another year of development under his belt, he’ll be in the conversation for a bottom-six center role. He has the skill and hockey sense, he just needs a bit more size before he becomes an NHL regular.
Samuel Morin is going to be fun to watch. Whether it be in the NHL or AHL later in the year, I’m excited to see Morin as a left winger. He shouldn’t make the opening night lineup, but he could be kept on board as an extra forward in the taxi squad.
Nolan Patrick is the lynchpin in the Flyers’ bottom six. If he’s healthy and ready to go, he’s the third-line center and everything shifts around. If not, it’s more waiting and hopefully he can get back on the ice sooner than later. Even if they want to start Patrick as the fourth-line center, there will be other pieces that need to move around. Bunnaman is one of them.
These four (and Andreoff) were grouped together as younger players with NHL experience that have a shot at cracking the opening night lineup.
Prospects to watch
Wade Allison (RW), Tanner Laczynski (C), Linus Sandin (RW), Carsen Twarynski (LW)
These four, on the other hand, are mostly on the outside looking in. Sure, there’s a chance that someone impresses and wins a spot in the lineup out of camp, but it’s not safe enough to count on.
Wade Allison is entering his first professional season after four years at Western Michigan. He finished his senior year with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 26 games, for a NCAA career total of 97 points (45 goals, 52 assists) in 106 games. The 2016 second-round pick has top-six winger potential as a goalscorer, and could surprise some people in camp. At the very least he could make it as a part of the taxi squad.
Like Allison, Tanner Laczynski just finished his NCAA career with Ohio State and is turning pro. He had 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 36 games last season for a NCAA career total of 143 points (48 goals) in 138 games. Unlike Allison, Laczynski has the added bonus of being a center. He may have Patrick, Frost, and Bunnaman ahead of him, but there’s a path there if things break his way
Linus Sandin is in a unique position. He isn’t a prospect like these others, but rather a 24-year-old winger that has played 163 games of professional hockey – including 20 this season – in the SHL. The Flyers have been pretty good with their European scouting over the past decade or so, and Sandin could be another good find. He had 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 51 SHL games last season, and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 20 games this year. The Flyers didn’t sign Sandin to play in the AHL. He may have to bide his time given the team’s depth, but he should get a chance in the bottom six.
Carsen Twarynski comes last alphabetically, and he also probably comes last in terms of chances of making the roster. He made the team out of training camp last season, but then fell flat and was sent down in the middle of November. At this point, he seems to be behind many other bottom-six winger-types, especially with Morin being moved up.
Here for the experience
Tyson Foerster (RW), Zayde Wisdom (LW)
Flyers 2021 draft picks Tyson Foerster (1st round, 23rd overall) and Zayde Wisdom (4th round, 94th overall) missed out on the summer rookie camp due to the unusual offseason and draft, so they’ll get a taste of training camp with the big boys.
It’s still a bit too early to try to project a realistic lineup, so we’ll get back to you on that one. For now, these are the groups of players to key in on.
Given all of the moving parts, particularly in the bottom six, it’s going to be interesting to see who is playing with who to start camp. Alain Vigneault and Co. will have just six days of on-ice practices to determine who makes the opening night roster on January 13th against the Penguins.