VOORHEES, N.J. – When the Flyers released their opening night roster yesterday, it was noticeably light with only 21 players listed.
Teams are allowed to carry 23 players on their roster at any one time, so there appeared to be some certainty that they would make another roster move or two before opening night.
And that happened Tuesday.
The Flyers signed defenseman Hal Gill to a one-year contract worth $700,000, making him the eighth defenseman on the roster.
They also recalled forward Adam Hall from the Phantoms, making him the 13th forward.
Gill’s signing is the most interesting news though.
In camp on a professional tryout contract, Gill, 38, impressed the Flyers enough to beat out Bruno Gervais and Oliver Lauridsen for a roster spot.
This leaves the Flyers with a glut of NHL defensemen, as most teams carry seven, not eight rearguards, which means the situation could change in the near future.
However, it puts the Flyers in a more comfortable position defensively from a depth perspective than it’s been in the past.
With Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, Mark Streit, and Nicklas Grossmann locked in as the top five on the blue line, having Erik Gustafsson, Andrej Meszaros and now Gill on the NHL roster and then four defensemen on the Adirondack Phantoms with NHL experience (Gervais, Lauridsen, Brandon Manning and Matt Konan) plus a well-regarded prospect in Mark Alt - and having all 13 defensemen healthy - leaves the team feeling much better about itself when it comes to its defense.
As for Gill, he was considered a long shot when he was brought into camp, as the Flyers didn’t appear to have room for him, but he was able to win a job using his veteran guile.
Gill is positionally sound and is able to smartly force rushing forwards to the outside into lower percentage areas. He also is a big-bodied, net-front presence who can clear the line of sight for the goalies and isn’t afraid to put his 6-foot, 8-inch frame in front of oncoming shots.
In the past five seasons, Gill has blocked exactly 500 shots as a member of the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators.
The Flyers also like what he brings to the locker room as a veteran presence and his leadership qualities. Gill has served in the leadership group in each of his stops in the NHL.
All told, Gill is entering his 17th NHL season and the Flyers will be his sixth team having previously played for Boston, Toronto and Pittsburgh as well as Montreal and Nashville.
He has played in 1,102 regular season games and an additional 110 playoff games. He went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice with the Penguins, winning the Cup in 2009.
Never considered an offensive player, Gill has just 36 goals and 148 assists for 184 points in his career. He has also compiled 960 career penalty minutes.
Check back later today for more on Gill signing with the team after practice.
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