A lot of people have been asking me who the Flyers are going to bring to camp, if there are a couple roster spots that might be available for a camp battle, no matter how abbreviated, and who the organization is going to turn to to replace injured players.
So, I thought it best to provide a breakdown, by position, of the players who should be in camp next week and who might be fighting for a spot in the lineup.
The Flyers will likely bring 15 forwards to camp with 12 starting spots and likely two reserve spots available on the roster.
The guys you know will be there are easy:
Danny Briere ***
- Briere has the asterisks next to his name because he has an injured wrist and could miss time in camp and the beginning of the season.
The next seven names are where things get interesting:
Yes, you read Laughton's name there. I know G.M. Paul Holmgren told the media it was unlikely that he'd bring in a junior player with camp being so short, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Laughton there.
In talking with people in the organization who have watched Laughton play at Oshawa in the OHL this season, they are really impressed with his game and they think he could be NHL ready right now.
With that said, I think Laughton, the Flyers first round pick in last year's draft, has a shot to not only be at camp, but, much like Couturier last season, win a job on the team. People have asked me for a roster surprise, well, that's it in my opinion. Laughton makes the team.
Wellwood and Rinaldo should both make the team as well and Shelley will probably be in the same boat he was often last season - a healthy scratch who can fill out the roster in case of injury or be inserted when a game looks like it might get particularly physical.
McGinn is an interesting name.. He has impressed the Flyers brass with his growth into the role of a power forward this season with the Phantoms, and he'll get a look with the big club.
Sestito is a victim of bad luck once again - last year he looked like he was going to make the team out of camp, then was suspended for a hit in a preseason game and never really got a long look in the NHL.
This year, he is laid up with the mumps. That's right, the mumps. I haven't heard of anyone having the mumps since 1979. Maybe it's just me though.
Anyway, the mumps might keep him out of camp as well, which is where Zolnierczyk might get his chance.
Zolnierczyk has had a good season so far for the Phantoms in the AHL and because of that, he is likely the first call up from that team to replace a forward. With Briere's status uncertain and Sestito sick, he'll likely get the call to be here for camp, but I still think if everyone's healthy, he's the odd man out back to Adirondack.
The Flyers have depth at this position, but they are banged up. As such, the situation is tenuous at best as the Flyers hope to stay healthy on the back end so things don't go south quickly.
Here are the locks for the lineup:
Andrej Meszaros ***
Meszaros was cleared by doctors for full participation yesterday after offseason surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Holmgren believes Meszaros has to learn to trust the tendon now, which could take right up until the opener, which appears to be slated for Jan. 19. However barring a setback, I'd expect Meszaros in the lineup for the opener.
The Flyers will probably have three other defenseman in camp who will battle for the final starting spot:
Despite an up-and-down season so far for the Phantoms, I'd expect Manning will still be given a shot with the Flyers if, for no other reason, Erik Gustafsson continues to suffer from a bone bruise in his foot (although it sounds like it may be worse than originally diagnosed and he could be out for a bit) and Marc-Andre Bourdon hasn't been on the ice in over a month dealing with issues related to a concussion he suffered last season with the Flyers.
Unless Manning really impresses and wins that No. 6 spot, I think the Flyers would rather have him playing games than being a healthy scratch and will send him back to Adirondack, leaving the battle between Gervais and Lilja for playing time until Gustafsson is healthy.
Gustafsson is in town though and will be seen by Flyers doctors, which means the team probably plans on keeping him here the whole time and not send him back to Adirondack, unless it's for a rehab stint.
There's not much drama here. Ilya Bryzgalov is the starter. Michael Leighton is the backup. The Flyers won't bring in a third goalie for such a short camp. The only question that needs to play out here is just how many games Bryzgalov starts in a shortened, compacted schedule. If there's an injury, the first call up would likely be veteran Scott Munroe.