Every game we can dress 20 players. 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies is the normal breakdown. On occasion, you go with 7 d-men and 11 forwards. For the most part, we know whose job is safe: Mike Richards, Nikolai Zherdev, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, Blair Betts, Ian Laperriere, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger, and Matt Carle. That leaves open 3 forward spots, a defensive pairing, and of course, the starting goalie job.
Goaltending: Michael Leighton vs. Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Johan Backland (vs. Brian Boucher?)
We all thought that once the Flyers didn’t bring in any new faces on the free agent market that the job belonged to Leighton. Now, more and more I keep reading that Bobrovsky, our “goalie of the future”, might be ready to compete this year rather than next. Backlund was hurt last year, and also feels that he has something to prove. Boucher, who we all love, might as well get a chance, seeing as how Leighton isn’t exactly established anyway. Still, he didn’t really shine on a consistent enough basis last year when he had his opportunities. Chances are that Leighton wins this battle, but I guess we’ll just wait and see.
Defense: Oskars Bartulis, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell, Matt Walker, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Lukas Krajicek
Marc-Andre Bourdon is a rookie looking for a spot, while the rest of the field ranges from some experience (Bartulis, Krajicek) to a ton of experience (O’Donnell). Pronger might miss the start of the season, so it’s possible that 3 spots are up for grabs. As of now, I’d bet on Meszaros and O’Donnell winning the permanent spots, and playing together. Their salaries are a bit high for them to sit up in the press box on a regular basis. I don’t know much about Bourdon, but I want to see if he’s any good. Our defense is a lot better than last year, with Ryan Parent getting throttled against the boards and losing the puck on ever shift. The defensemen that don’t make the regular line-up can at least come in from time to time to give the regular guys a break. This could pay off if we’re able to make another strong playoff push. The team was just spent last year in the last few games of the finals.
Forwards: Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, Jody Shelley, JVR, Mike Testwuide, Jon Kalinski, Andreas Nodl, David Laliberte, Bill Guerin
I don’t think the team is ready to give up on JVRyet, so I could have included him on the list of guys that are definitely in the line up. However, I really think that depends on whether or not he looks significantly better than last season. He was an average palyer last year that barely stood out from the pack. We need a lot more from the guy drafted 2nd overall, right after Patrick Kane. Carcillo is headed to camp as a winger on Richards’ line, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Guerin is pretty old, but proved that he can contribute the last few years in Pitt. Despite that, I don’t want him here. Between his time in NJand Pitt., he caused us plenty of misery. I don’t really want him here. Powe brings speed, but not really much else. Kalinski, Nodl, Laliberte haven’t really had that much opportunity to prove themselves, and this might be their last chance. Shelley will probably not play every day, he’ll just come in when we need to add some grit to the line-up. Testwuide is a guy that that we signed as a free agent out of college.
Most likely, of the bunch, Carcillo, JVR, and Guerin make the final cut. Although I’d really like for Testwuide to make it rather than Billy G. I think it’s also possible that Carcillo sits and Powe makes it somehow. A lot depends on how well the lines gel together during training camp. Two more days until that starts, I can’t wait.
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