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Predicting the Flyers’ 23-Man Opening Night Roster

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Noah Cates (AP photo)
Noah Cates (AP photo)

Forty-five days from now, the Philadelphia Flyers will open the season Oct. 12 at Columbus.

We have less than one month before rookie camp, then training camp. Then, six preseason games.

Before all of that actual hockey, we’re going to predict the 23-man opening night roster. We’re going to follow general manager Daniel Briere’s preference of having the kids play when possible. And, if these predictions are accurate, there will be some pain along the way.

Twelve of the 23 players we predicted are age 25 or under. Last year’s opening roster also had 12 players 25 or under.

First, the list. Then, the reasons why.

Forwards (13):

  • Cam Atkinson, 34 years old
  • Noah Cates, 24
  • Sean Couturier, 30
  • Eliot Desnoyers, 21
  • Joel Farabee, 23
  • Tyson Foerster, 21
  • Morgan Frost, 24
  • Rhett Gardner, 27
  • Garnet Hathaway, 31
  • Travis Konecny, 26
  • Scott Laughton, 29
  • Ryan Poehling, 24
  • Owen Tippett, 24

Briere recently talked about giving the young forwards a chance last year and how several of them showed improvement. He singled out Tippett, Cates and Frost and complimented Konecny on his breakthrough season.

Foerster and Desnoyers are young additions to the lineup. Foerster, who scored seven points in an eight-game call-up at the end of last season, seems primed for NHL success.

Desnoyers, 21, could be the surprise addition to the lineup after a productive season with the Phantoms (23 goals, 21 assists) and a four-game call-up to the Flyers. He also might be on the bubble. In 2021-22, Desnoyers scored 42 goals and 88 points in 61 games for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Desnoyers said in Development Camp that making the opening night roster was his goal. That doesn’t seem far-fetched, but it might be a reach for the beginning of the season.

Gardner, Hathaway and Poehling were signed as free agents, so we expect them to get a serious look. Do they all make the opening night roster? Probably.

This predicted lineup doesn’t include Nic Deslauriers, Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski, who were on last year’s opening roster. If the Flyers truly want to go young, someone has to pay the price.

Deslauriers brings toughness, always a welcomed commodity. He also has three years remaining on his contract. Laczynski dealt with injuries and only scored four points in 32 games last season.

Allison has played only 75 games in three seasons (plus 38 games with the Phantoms). Allison shows an upside but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. A healthy camp and preseason for Allison, and continued good play, could move him into the opening night roster. Probably in place of Desnoyers. Also, Bobby Brink is close to making the roster.

Predicting lineups comes with the widespread uncertainties of training camp and preseason games. Expect a high-paced, competitive camp geared to help make roster decisions. Deslauriers, Laczynski and/or Allison could be on the ice in Columbus on Oct. 12. But it’s certainly not a lock.

There could be some interesting management meetings when roster decisions are made.

Defensemen (8):

  • Emil Andrae, 21
  • Rasmus Ristolainen, 28
  • Travis Sanheim, 27
  • Nick Seeler, 30
  • Marc Staal, 36
  • Sean Walker, 28
  • Cam York, 22
  • Egor Zamula, 23

Briere talked about giving the young defensemen the opportunity to see what they have next season. This predicted lineup adds rookies Andrae and Zamula, who played 14 games with Philadelphia last season. It also includes Walker, who was part of the Ivan Provorov trade, and 36-year-old Staal. Last year, York started the season with the Phantoms and played 20 games there.

This lineup sends youngsters Helge Grans, Adam Ginning and Ronnie Attard to the AHL. Grans and Ginning impressed at Development Camp but might be a season of seasoning away. Of course, the Flyers would love to see another of these young players push aside a veteran. Attard might be the closest to doing so.

Goaltenders (2): 

  • Carter Hart, 25
  • Sam Ersson, 23

Goaltending is the most difficult position to predict after Carter Hart. The Flyers would expose Sandstrom to waivers if he doesn’t start the season in Philadelphia. Presuming no trades or player movement, the Phantoms’ goaltending tandem could be Sandstrom and veteran Cal Petersen, who was obtained in the Provorov trade.

All of this doesn’t account for prospect Ivan Fedotov, the subject of international intrigue over the summer regarding the validity of his Flyers’ contract. The IIHF said the Flyers have a valid contract with Fedotov, so if he comes to North America, he’ll play somewhere.

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Below is the 2022-23 Flyers’ opening night roster. Six of last year’s players are no longer in the Flyers’ organization (boldface).

2022-23 Opening Night Forwards (13):

  • Wade Allison
  • Cam Atkinson
  • Noah Cates
  • Nic Deslauriers
  • Joel Farabee
  • Morgan Frost
  • Kevin Hayes
  • Hayden Hodgson
  • Travis Konecny
  • Scott Laughton
  • Tanner Laczynski
  • Owen Tippett
  • James van Riemsdyk

From last year’s opening night group, Hayes and Hodgson were traded and JVR left for Boston via free agency.

2022-23 Opening Night Defensemen (8):

  • Ronnie Attard
  • Justin Braun
  • Tony DeAngelo
  • Ivan Provorov
  • Rasmus Ristolainen
  • Travis Sanheim
  • Nick Seeler
  • Egor Zamula

From last year’s opening night group, Braun is playing in Germany, DeAngelo was waived and Provorov was traded. 

2022-23 Opening Night Goaltenders (2):

  • Carter Hart
  • Sam Ersson
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