Sean Walker: Stock Down
The veteran Walker came from the Kings to the Flyers as part of the Provorov deal, a salary cap casualty. After a devastating knee injury in the 21-22 season, the right-handed defensemen faced mobility criticism in his final season with the Kings. Concerns of Walker’s mobility lingered in this season’s camp. Even with such concerns, Walker’s reputation for tenacity on defense and as a solid presence on the puck created the expectation that he would buttress the team’s depleted defensive right side, but the preseason played out a little differently.
Walker’s skating is extremely solid, and if he has lost some of his mobility, it is hard to see. His ability to turn and accelerate look really good compared to his defensive team mates. Unfortunately, Walker’s work defensively has been inconsistent. Perhaps still missing complete confidence in his repaired knee, Walker has been slow to close down on shooters. He seems to be on the short end of many puck battles as well. Even though Walker played 70 games last season, he looks rusty, like the game is moving faster than he can think it. With the Flyers making defense a priority, it is fair to say they were hoping for Walker to show more.
The Flyers are banking on Walker to be at his best version if they hope to compete. It is fair to say that he has been underwhelming thus far. It is possible, or even likely, that he is still getting into his groove with a new team and will show more as the regular season progresses, but he has opened the door to the possibility that he may not be the answer on the defense’s right side.
Emil Andrae: Stock Up
Andrae’s preseason debut was ugly. But it is the preseason for a reason. His first outing against New Jersey saw three goals slip in when he was on the ice. He was victimized by his 49 seconds of ice time with Cam York, as an ugly York turnover found its way to the back of the net. He was late closing down a Devils’ player on a juicy rebound left by Cal Petersen, and was simply outplayed on a third goal. But after that game, Andrae has looked very solid.
There has been a lot of buzz about Andrae’s camp from the Flyers brass. He has made the team out of camp, but will likely sent down once Ristolainen returns from IR. This is more about him still being waiver exempt than his play. While a lot of the talk surrounding Andrae has been about his defensive tenacity, something I am yet to see in games, he has shown great composure and decision making with the puck, especially in his own end. This has been a missing from the team since the Flyers traded away Kimmo Timonen.
In the worst case, Andrae looks to be the first option in terms of call ups. A more likely scenario is the young defensemen will get an opportunity to tie up a full time NHL roster spot. There is a strong possibility that Andrae’s play may force a defensemen to waivers (Zamula) or a trade. He will get significant NHL ice time this season.