Making the cut
Tyson Foerster impressed during an eight-game recall from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League last season (seven points; three goals, four assists), and the 21-year-old likely is ready for a larger role. The departures of forwards Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk open two spots among the top-nine forwards. His shot is his best asset and should help a power play that was 32nd in the NHL last season (15.6 percent). But the Flyers development staff is happy with how Foerster has improved his skating and play away from the puck.
Most intriguing addition
Marc Staal signed a one-year contract July 3, and the 36-year-old defenseman is expected to supply experience to a position group that needs it after Provorov was traded and Tony DeAngelo had the final season of his contract bought out. Tortorella knows Staal well from their five seasons together with the New York Rangers and has referred to Staal as an extension of the coaching staff. Staal understands what his role entails with a rebuilding team, including the chance that he might not play every game with Philadelphia attempting to see what it has with some of its defenseman prospects. However, Staal was a key player with the Florida Panthers in helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final last season, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him start the season on the top pair alongside York.
Biggest potential surprise
Emil Andrae impressed during his late-season AHL stint, with six points (two goals, four assists) in 10 games after the 21-year-old defenseman had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 51 games for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League. Andrae has a competitive streak that belies his size (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) and director of player development Riley Armstrong compared him to retired NHL All-Star Kimmo Timonen. It's likely Andrae begins the season in the AHL, but he could be close to making his NHL debut.
Ready to contribute
Egor Zamula had four assists in 14 NHL games last season, but the Flyers are hoping for more production from the 23-year-old defenseman. His size (6-3, 177), reach and vision are his chief assets, but he had surgery on his left shoulder April 10, leaving in question his ability to add needed strength to have an impact in the defensive and offensive zones. Zamula would require waivers to be sent to the AHL, giving him an edge in making the NHL roster. However, he'll have competition from prospects Andrae, Helge Grans, Adam Ginning and Ronnie Attard, as well as veterans Sean Walker and Nick Seeler, for one of the final spots on defense.
Tyson Foerster, C (undrafted on average in fantasy) -- He had an impressive NHL trial for the Flyers last season with seven points (three goals, four assists), including a power-play goal, and 15 shots on goal in eight games. Foerster led Lehigh Valley of the AHL with 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 66 games and could be a deep fantasy sleeper this season ahead of a likely top-six role in the NHL. – Anna Dua