Speculation about Carter Hart possibly playing his way onto the Flyers’ roster ended Sunday when the rookie goaltender was assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
In addition, rookie defenseman Mark Friedman went to the Phantoms.
Defenseman Philippe Myers, who had been called up from the Phantoms on Saturday to play in the final preseason game at Boston, also went back to Lehigh Valley on Sunday.
Even with backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth (groin) doubtful for Thursday’s season opener in Vegas, the Flyers appeared to be leaning toward Anthony Stolarz as a fill-in behind starting goaltender Brian Elliott.
Stolarz has NHL experience and Hart does not, which leaves the latter at a disadvantage.
In a Sunday afternoon conference call, general manager Ron Hextall said it wasn’t easy deciding between Hart and Stolarz.
“Carter had a real good game,’’ Hextall said. “He played enough games for us to get a feel for him. Whenever you send someone down toward the end of training camp, he’s the guy that’s closest to making the team.
“So he did a good job for us and certainly showed us that we look forward to good things here in the future. These are all tough decisions toward the end. With (Alex) Lyon and Neuvy getting banged up there, your numbers dwindle in a hurry. So it was a tough decision.’’
The moves reduce the Flyers roster to 29 players.
It looks like the Flyers will cut at least one more player before the season opener and that probably will be a forward. But Hextall said he will make a decision most likely on Monday.
Neuvirth (groin) is making some progress, according to Hextall.
“He is skating and I believe he took some shots again yesterday,’’ Hextall said. “So he’s going to come on the trip, I anticipate him practicing again around the weekend (in Denver, where the Flyers play the Avalanche on Saturday).’’
Hart could be back at some point this season. Don’t forget, this is his first year in the pros and usually goaltenders need some experience at the minor league level before making the jump.
“I think that’s a perfect world,’’ Hextall said. “You look at the top guys in the league, I think they’ve put time in the minors and honed their craft. We’ll see where this goes.’’
Praise for Vorobyev
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the training camp was Russian rookie forward Mikhail Vorobyev, who could have a fairly significant role for the Flyers in the early going.
“He came in and made an impact,’’ Hextall said. “That’s what you’re looking for with your young players. He’s done a real good job from day to one to Saturday night. A real good two-way player. Not a guy you’re afraid to put out there because of the defensive side of the puck. Can play on your power play, on your penalty kill. He’s done a real good job showing he belongs on this team.’’
Hextall indicated Jori Lehtera, who is involved in a legal matter back in his native country Finland (a drug raid was performed last summer on a house he owns but so far authorities have taken no action against him), will be available for Thursday’s game against the Golden Knights. The NHL has not taken any action against Lehtera. . Center.Corban Knight might have made the opening night roster but suffered an upper-body injury which will keep him out three weeks. Hextall said no decision will be made on him until he’s healthy again.