By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The Flyers roster continues to dwindle as the start of the regular season draws closer. Alain Vigneault said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Islanders that the roster could be down to 24 players at most by Thursday’s practice, putting the Flyers very close to the final roster at that point, going into Friday night’s preseason finale.
On Wednesday, the Flyers made 10 roster cuts, bringing the roster to 24 healthy players and 32 overall. Five players were assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, headlined by forward Morgan Frost. Forwards Linus Sandin, Tyson Foerster and Isaac Ratcliffe were also cut as well as defenseman Linus Högberg.
Cal O’Reilly, who was in camp on a professional try-out, was released and will report to Lehigh Valley.
Four other players were placed on waivers for the purpose of being assigned to the Phantoms: forwards Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov, Gerry Mayhew and defenseman Adam Clendening.
Most of the remaining healthy roster is as expected. There are 13 forwards left on the roster, with the only real surprises left being Jackson Cates and Garrett Wilson. Wilson is only signed to an AHL deal, so he would need to be signed to an NHL deal to remain part of the roster when the season begins. Eight defensemen also remain on the roster, including Nick Seeler and Cam York. Three goalies are also on the roster, though Felix Sandstrom will probably be part of the next round of cuts in the coming days.
So with Frost and Bunnaman in particular going to the minors, what does this mean for the Flyers roster? For one, they may only look to carry 12 forwards as long as they remain on home ice. The Flyers first four games of the season are at home and span nearly two weeks of the NHL’s regular season. The team does not need to carry an extra forward until their first road trip.
It appears that Cates has won a job on the roster for now, with Wilson possibly being up for a few more days of practice before eventually making his way to the Phantoms. Frost had been taking shifts in the middle-six portion of the lineup, so it’s possible that the Flyers move up a player like Scott Laughton, previously playing on the fourth line, to be a center again while waiting for Kevin Hayes to return from injury. There was also a chance that Bunnaman would win the 13th forward job, but again, the team may not need a player in that role for a couple weeks.
On the blue line, it’s not a surprise to see York in the competition for a roster spot still, though it would be more likely that he will need some seasoning at the AHL level. With Clendening on waivers, it appears Seeler has won the seventh defenseman job for now, a slot that was opened up by the injury to Sam Morin.
There are still a few more days for the Flyers to work out the final official roster, but it’s starting to become clear what their plan is for now as they prepare to start the 2021-22 season.