We’re four weeks away from Philadelphia Flyers hockey action.
According to reports, the club’s rookie camp will begin on Thursday, September 15. Then, the prospects will suit up for a pair of weekend games against the New York Rangers’ prospects. The games will take place at PPL Center in Allentown, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop will be at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday, September 16 and 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 17th.
Fresh off the World Junior Championship, where they’ll play in the semifinal against Czechia on Friday, Team Canada’s Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers are expected to be rookie-camp attendees for the Flyers. Swedish defenseman Emil Andrae will be headed back to Europe for another season with HV71, which was promoted to the top-level SHL for the 2022-23 season.
NCAA prospects are not permitted to participate in rookie camps, so we won’t see 2022 first-round pick Cutter Gauthier or any of the Flyers’ other college prospects at rookie camp.
The Rangers’ roster should also include two members of Team Canada. Forward Will Cuylle and goaltender Dylan Garand have both wrapped up their major junior careers and will likely start next season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The Flyers’ main training camp is set to kick off one week later, on Thursday, September 22. It’ll be fascinating to watch as coach John Tortorella puts his charges through their paces and works to re-set his team’s identity.
Here’s what general manager Chuck Fletcher and his staff need to address before the puck drops for the regular season on October 13.
Putting Pen To Paper
Over the last month, Fletcher has focused on bringing his club’s restricted free agents under contract. Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratliffe, Tanner Laczynski and Owen Tippett all signed new deals. So did Zack MacEwen, who came to terms on a one-year contract rather than go to an arbitration hearing.
On Monday, the Flyers also announced that they’d inked a new deal with Jackson Cates.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 15, 2022
Signed as a free agent out of college in 2021, Cates played 37 AHL games with the Phantoms last season, putting up 10 points. He also got into 11 games with the Flyers, and scored one goal. A left-shot center who can also handle duties on the wing, Cates will turn 25 on September 26.
As of Thursday, just three restricted free agents remain unsigned: forwards Wade Allison and Hayden Hodgson and defenseman Linus Hogberg. Turning 25 in October, Allison will require waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League this season. He could have a real crack at making the Flyers’ opening-night lineup if he has a good preseason. And his high-energy, physical style should make a positive impression on his new coach.
What’s Up With Ellis?
With Allison on their non-roster list, CapFriendly shows 25 players on the Flyers’ main roster next season, with a total cap hit of just over $85 million.
Of course, the club will need to be at or below the salary-cap ceiling of $82.5 million and the roster limit of 23 players one day before the regular season begins.
The burning question: will Ryan Ellis be on that main roster?
Fletcher last spoke about Ellis when free agency opened on July 13, a little over a month ago. “He’s progressed, but there’s no guarantee when he’ll be back,” he said about the 31-year-old defenseman, who managed just four games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators during the 2021 offseason.
If Ellis’s prognosis remains pessimistic when the season begins, he can be placed on long-term injured reserve if he’s expected to miss at least 10 games or 24 days of action. His $6.25 million cap hit would also be erased while he’s on LTIR. That would make the Flyers easily cap-compliant, and allow Tortorella some flexibility when naming his opening-night roster.
But putting that $6.25 million back on the books would mean that just over $2.5 million would need to be cut ahead of opening day.
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Managing The Cap
But that’s OK!
We know that Bobby Brink and his $925,000 are headed to LTIR as he recovers from offseason hip surgery. Joel Farabee is also recovering from offseason surgery, but his timeline should have him close to game-ready when the season begins.
Barring any other injuries, the club would be cap compliant if defensemen Ronnie Attard and Nick Seeler are assigned to Lehigh Valley. And let’s assume that Felix Sandstrom will sub into the backup goalie slot. Recent reports indicate that Ivan Fedotov is trying to get his Russian military conscription reversed. But it’s not yet clear whether he will be successful, or when that might happen.
Using CapFriendly’s Armchair GM tool, a 22-man opening-night roster could look something like this. It comes in with just over $200,000 in cap space to spare, so if Allison wants to grab that 13th forward spot, he’d be well served not to price himself much higher than Cates’ $925,000. That was also the average annual value of his previous deal.
Scott Laughton – Morgan Frost – Owen Tippett
Nic DesLauriers – Patrick Brown – Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov – Ryan Ellis
Travis Sanheim – Rasmus Ristolainen
Cam York – Tony DeAngelo
Lines and pairings, of course, are subject to the discretion of John Tortorella.
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