Storylines abound as the Philadelphia Flyers prepare to open their main training camp. But which ones should you be paying most attention to?
With Rookie Camp winding to a close, culminating in the Rookie Game against the New York Islanders later today, regular season Philadelphia Flyers hockey is well and truly just around the corner. But before that comes the Flyers’ main training camp, which is scheduled to open on Sept. 15. Here are the three storylines you should be keeping a close eye on as we move closer to opening night in San Jose.
Has the Flyers’ future finally arrived?
We’ve already expended quite a few words on this blog extolling the virtues of the Flyers’ incoming prospects, and for good reason. After about five years of retooling and rebuilding, while treading water at the NHL level, the Flyers finally look ready to build a consistently great team. Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Oskar Lindblom (among several others) form a core of young stars worth getting positively giddy about.
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The question is, will Ron Hextall even keep them on the Flyers’ roster? Even players as talented as Patrick and Lindblom cannot be certain that they’ll be wearing an orange and black sweater come opening night. It feels like this is the year Hextall fully embraces the youth movement, but anything is possible.
The starting goalie standoff
If this year is anything like years past, Dave Hakstol will not commit to a single starting goaltender for the entire season. His MO has clearly been to ride the hot hand (either Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth) until the hand is frozen to the touch. That means whoever starts game one of the regular season is far from guaranteed to make a majority of the starts, especially since the tandem of Neuvirth and Brian Elliott seems to have been designed with a platoon in mind.
Still, it’ll be interesting to see if one of the two veteran netminders stakes an early claim to the job in September. Neuvirth has voiced his intentions to become the Flyers’ clear starting goalie- it’s time to see if he can back up his words with strong performance.
Tough back-of-roster decisions
Let’s just say it’s going to be incredibly interesting to find out who makes the Flyers roster out of camp. There are battles at every position between many players who deserve a shot. Is Scott Laughton the new fourth-line center after being protected in the expansion draft? Or can Taylor Leier or Michael Vecchione steal his spot? And which young defensemen make the cut- Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, or Philippe Myers?
The Flyers are going to have to make some difficult choices. But at the very least, they can rest easy knowing that whoever winds up making the squad will have done so on merit, strengthening the team as a result.