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by Anthony SanFilippo / Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA – There’s one week to go before the Flyers final roster has to be submitted. And in that time, the team is going to have to reduce their current collection of players in camp from 27 to 23.

So, who will go and who will stay?

While there are some players who are easy to deduce where they fall on the depth chart, there are others that are certainly… well… uncertain.

And with that in mind, the remaining three preseason games will go a long way toward determining who will get one of those precious final spots.

“We want to see the people [who are battling for positions] and see how they perform in those situations. We’ve still got a lot of good defensemen here and we’ll see who’s going to make the team and then there are battles inside the battles.

“We want to see certain power play guys and put groups together and start working on our lineup. We want to put pieces in place that we’ll see throughout the year… there’s still a lot of things we can look at in practice, but in the end, games are the best way to evaluate.”

With that said, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl and Chris Vandevelde get plenty of playing time this week.

Scott Laughton is battling for one of the final forward spots on the Flyers roster.

Ditto Hal Gill, Oliver Lauridsen, Bruno Gervais, Andrej Meszaros, Nick Grossmann, and Erik Gustafsson on defense.

They seem to be the guys who are sort of jockeying for position on the roster.

Starting with the forwards, It’s likely that two of the three aforementioned players will earn a spot on the roster, as the Flyers are expected to carry 14 forwards.

With Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Vinny Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Adam Hall, Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill all but locks to be on the squad when rosters are turned into the league next week, that leaves two spots open among those three remaining players.

Laughton and Raffl appear to have an edge, but the fact that VandeVelde is hanging around makes the conversation interesting.

The Flyers have to make a decision on Laughton, but not necessarily right away. He can play up to nine games for the Flyers before they would have to make the ultimate decision as to whether to keep him on the roster for the entire season, or to send him back to his junior team.

Laughton will likely be given that look – he was given it last season as well – so it’s a good bet he’ll get at least some, if not all of those games, before the Flyers make the final call.

Raffl is a guy the Flyers think can play at the NHL level, but the fact that VandeVelde is still in camp suggests that maybe they want to give Raffl a little more time to grow accustomed to the North American game after playing exclusively in Europe.

Raffl is on a two-way deal, so he can be sent to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL without issue. Meanwhile, VandeVelde has an AHL-only deal and remains with the Flyers on a try out contract, but if he were to make the roster, the Flyers have room to add a contract with Anthony Stolarz, Taylor Leier and Samuel Morin all “sliding” by being returned to juniors.

Raffl probably still has an inside track, but not by much over VandeVelde and these next few games will make the final determination on that spot.

As for the defense, the only players who are guaranteed spots are Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Mark Streit and Braydon Coburn.

Beyond that, it’s a lot of up for grabs.

One would think that if healthy, Grossmann and Meszaros are top six defensemen, but if so where does that leave Gustafsson? Is Gervais number eight? Would the Flyers carry eight defenseman?

After he played so well last Spring, Erik Gustafsson probably has a roster spot locked up, but with the competition in camp on the blue line, he should never get too comfortable.

And why is Gill still here if he’s such a long shot to make the roster.

“Everyone’s looked really good out there,” Laviolette said. “It’s good to have that depth. These final games and evaluations will really push the slotting and the decision-making. I don’t think there is anybody who has had a poor showing, which has made those decisions more difficult.”

Oliver Lauridsen, the only defenseman left with a two-way contract, seems to be the most likely candidate to not break camp with the team, as he can easily be assigned to the Phantoms.

It’s tough to figure where Gill fits, but he’s been really good in camp so far, and that has the Flyers thinking a little bit. As for Gervais, it’s possible the Flyers start the year with eight defensemen and only 13 forwards, sending both Raffl and VandeVelde down – at least while they give Laughton his nine games – and if that’s the case, Bruno would be the eighth guy on the depth chart.

Finally, there is the goaltending battle. And while there is no doubt that both Ray Emery and Steve Mason will be on the Flyers, the question of who is the No. 1 guy may not be answered until much later in the season.

And Laviolette is perfectly fine with that being the case.

“I think that we have two goaltenders that will play a lot,” he said. “We’re going to pick one to start the season and you’ll probably see the other one shortly after that. They’ve both done a real nice job and finished their previous years well. They came into camp in great shape and have played well so far. They’ll continue to push each other for ice time and starts, but you’ll see a goaltending duo that helps us win hockey games.”

That said, the gut instinct here is that Ray Emery opens the season against Toronto, but that Mason will see his first action on the opening road trip in either Montreal or Carolina.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

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