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Flyers Daily: 5 Burning Questions at Camp; Rangers Jockeying for Patrick Kane?

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Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers
With Sean Couturier injured, Kevin Hayes will be the Flyers' top-line center until he returns. Camp opens Thursday morning in Voorhees.

The Philadelphia Flyers open their first training camp under demanding new coach John Tortorella Thursday in Voorhees.

Based on comments from players who have gone through these sessions with Torts in the past, it will be more like Camp Torture.

The Flyers will be trying to improve on an injury-riddled 61-point season. But with top-line center Sean Couturier and top-pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis sidelined by injuries, optimism isn’t exactly percolating.

Here are some five things to watch at camp, which is free and open to the public:

1. Will the Ivan Provorov-led defense have more structure under Tortorella?

Well, it can’t be worse than last year. And the good news is that, in anticipation of Tortorella’s camp,  most players have been here early and are probably in the best shape of their lives.

2. With Couturier out indefinitely, Kevin Hayes will become the No. 1 center at the start of camp.  Who will be his wingers?

James van Riemsdyk and Cam Atkinson will probably get the call. There will be lots of experimenting, of course, during camp.

3. Who is favored to win jobs on the other three lines?

Here’s my two cents:

Line 2: Scott Laughton centering Owen Tippett and Travis Konecny.

Line 3: Morgan Frost centering Noah Cates and Wade Allison.

Line 4: Artem Anisimov centering Nic Deslauriers and Zack MacEwen.

Defensively, the pairs should like like this: Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo; Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen; and Cam York and Justin Braun. Nick Seeler will probably be the seventh defenseman. Ronnie Attard and Egor Zamula are getting closer to the NHL, but need more AHL seasoning.

4. Which prospects have the best chance to make the team out of camp?

I’d be surprised if left Cates and York aren’t regulars.  Allison also has a good chance to earn a spot because of lineup-juggling caused by Couturier’s injury. Tippett had been expected to be the third-line right winger, but he could move to 2LW because Laughton figures to slide from left wing to center.

Center/winger Tanner Laczynski also has a shot to make the team. (I’m not counting Morgan Frost as a prospect because he played 55 games last season.)

5. Who will be Carter Hart’s backup?

Felix Sandstrom and Troy Grosenick are considered the top candidates, but Samuel Ersson is an interesting dark horse. Ersson, who is coming off groin surgery, looked great in a rookie game against the Rangers last week.

Around the NHL & National Hockey Now

New York Rangers: Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers’ acquisition of draft picks could lead them to deal for Chicago’s Patrick Kane down the road. New York Post.

Detroit Hockey Now: Andrew Copp, projected to be Detroit’s No. 2 center, had abdominal surgery this summer and won’t return until the season’s first week.  Like the Flyers, the Red Wings have a slew of injuries as camp opens. Detroit Red Wings. 

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Former Flyers defenseman Mark Friedman is one of the players on the roster bubble as the Penguins’ camp begins. Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Boston Hockey Now: Boston GM Don Sweeney is peppered with questions about a David Pasternak contract extension. Boston Bruins. 

New York Islanders Hockey Now: A look at the three biggest questions facing the Islanders at training camp. New York Islanders.

Florida Hockey Now: The Panthers signed undrafted winger Patrick Giles to a two-year entry-level deal. Giles, who played four years at Boston College, joined the Panthers as a free agent following his senior season and played 10 games with the Charlotte Checkers.  Florida Panthers. 

San Jose Hockey Now: San Jose is projected to be one of the five worst teams by BetOnline, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t gambling value on the team. Jack Bond of Paramount Sports discusses some of the Sharks’ odds. San Jose Sharks. 

Washington Hockey Now: Here’s a training camp primer on Alex Ovechkin and Co. Washington Capitals. 

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