With the preseason officially over, the Flyers now have a week to take care of business in finalizing the roster. Some of that remains to be determined based on the health of certain players.
However, the team did make cuts on Wednesday, assigning 10 players. One in particular stood out.
Defenseman Cam York, the Flyers 2019 first-round pick, was assigned to Lehigh Valley along with forward Tyson Foerster and Olle Lycksell, defensemen Adam Ginning and Adam Karashik, and goalie Pat Nagle. Forward Adam Brooks and Max Willman and defenseman Louie Belpedio were placed on waivers for purposes of assigning to Lehigh Valley. Forward J.R. Avon was assigned to Peterborough in the OHL.
Majority of those cuts were expected. Foerster is a rising prospect as the Flyers 2020 first-round pick who has had a unique development path so far and Lycksell turned heads in camp but remained a longshot. It was much more assumed that York had a roster spot based on merit.
As much as head coach John Tortorella stressed playing the kids, he also stressed that nothing is given out of camp. In recent days, Tortorella has been critical of York’s camp and seemingly challenged him to take another step. York struggled in Tuesday’s preseason finale, notably in a one-on-one battle that led to a shorthanded goal for the New York Islanders.
“We had a meeting today – coaches, managers – we just feel it’s the best thing for him right now in his process,” Tortorella said. “I think it’s a perfect situation for him to go down there and play. I think it’s the toughest position – goaltending’s the most important, defense is the toughest to play. To me, it’s part of the process for him with us in trying to get him the end goal to be that player that we think he can be.”
York is just 21 years old and has 33 career NHL games under his belt over the last two seasons. Tortorella again expressed that York possesses the physical skills to succeed in the NHL. It’s more about the mental side of the game that he wants York to improve by going to the minors.
“There’s so many God-given abilities he has that other players don’t. We want to try to get to it. I don’t think we got to it. That’s part of my responsibility. I don’t think we got to the abilities where he can help us right now with our defensive core. For me, it’s not the physical skills, I think it’s the mental skills. I think it’s him wanting to be a guy that’s going to make a difference and then being the player to make a difference.
“This is a young man playing a really important position in our game. This isn’t bad. This is the process of building a team. We feel he’s going to be a very important part of this team when we find our way. When we find our way? I have no idea. But this is the right thing for Yorkie.”
Tortorella added that half of the locker room is not a lock to be on the roster. That alluded to regular movement between the minors and NHL this season among young players.
For now, the Flyers roster is down to 34 players, but there are a few moving parts that make the roster even clearer. Add in injured players, and the Flyers have 14 healthy forwards, nine defensemen, and four goalies.
It seems like the only injured forward with a potential long-term recovery not being completely ruled out for the start of the season is Joel Farabee. Farabee is expected to see doctors on Thursday for an update, and that will help determine a better timeline.
Defensively, Ronnie Attard and Egor Zamula remain in camp and depending on the health of players, are still candidates to make the team. Tortorella said he believes both need more work at the minor-league level, but they remain in camp while the team gets more clarity.
In goal, the pending health of Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom has also kept Samuel Ersson and Troy Grosenick in camp.
The Flyers have until Monday to finalize the roster and then three more days before playing their first game to truly figure out the opening night lineup.