Flyers cut seven players but Fletcher says roster far from finalized

Chuck Fletcher

Even though there were several notable names on the Flyers’ list of seven roster cuts Tuesday, general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated none of those transactions should be etched in stone.

Among the cuts were Russian forwards German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyev.

Although those two, along with defensemen Mark Friedman and Chris Bigras plus forwards Nicholas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel, are headed to the Phantoms, it doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of them on the Flyers.

In fact, during a mid-afternoon media conference call on Tuesday, Fletcher suggested there could be some flexibility in the roster before the season opens on Oct. 4 in Prague, Czech Republic against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Flyers’ roster is now down to 27 and so there are still at least three or four more moves to be made.

Suffice to say, there remain several difficult transactions before the season starts.

“It’s been a real competitive camp,’’ Fletcher said. “We’ve had some tough decisions to make the last few days. All seven of those (aforementioned) players had a very good training camp.

“And we still have several players in camp competing for spots.’’

Making it through this cut were rookies Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost (injured), Connor Bunnaman, Carsen Twarynski and Sam Morin.

Veteran Chris Stewart, a free-agent camp invitee, is also still here.

“It’s been great,’’ Fletcher said. “The young players have been pushing. We brought in some players this summer (like Stewart) that are pushing as well.

“Our team performance continues to get better. So all in all, I think we’re happy where we’re at.’’

All that said, it might take a while to figure out the best 20 players on the ice.

“I anticipate an awful lot of roster changes the first six weeks of the year,’’ Fletcher said. “Our goal right now is to get a roster to play Chicago in Prague. When we get back, I’m sure there will be things to do to move forward.

“I think we fully understand that there’s going to be probably a steady flow of players moving between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley, particularly the early part of the season.’’

Fletcher said the Flyers will be taking goaltender Alex Lyon to Prague to serve as an emergency backup in case there is an injury to either Carter Hart or Brian Elliott.

In all, the Flyers probably will take between 23 and 25 players to Europe.

With the injury to Nolan Patrick sidelining him for the near future, Fletcher was asked if Frost (groin strain, day-to-day) might be able to grab the third-line center spot.

“I’m not sure about that,’’ Fletcher said. “We’ll see how his health is. There are other players on our roster who can play center. . .(Claude) Giroux can play center, (Michael) Raffl has played center before. We have a lot of roster flexibility. Again, there will be a lot of movement between the two teams as the year goes on.’’

>Expectations for the season

The Flyers looked much better in preseason action the last two games than the first two. Fletcher believes the Flyers are headed in the right direction.

“It’s just a process,’’ Fletcher said. “As a group, we had a much better week than last week. We’ve worked hard through practice. The last two games, we’ve played with much better structure, better details. That’s a good sign of progression.

“Last year was unacceptable. We’re changing structure and systems, the habits of the players. It’s going to take time. . .the quicker we get there, the quicker we’re going to get where we want to be.’’

>Injury updates

Patrick, who has missed all of training camp due to an upper-body injury, still hasn’t practiced with the team and would seem doubtful for action in Europe.

“I can’t speculate,’’ Fletcher said. “If we have an update, hopefully it will be in the next day or two. Then I’ll be in a position to speak to that.’’

Tyler Pitlick (wrist) is practicing without contact. He’s making progress, according to Fletcher, but his status for the Chicago season opener is still uncertain.

>Short shots

Fletcher said the Flyers could carry six, seven or even eight defensemen at times this season, depending on the team’s health situation. . .It looks like Farabee could be in the opening night lineup, judging by Fletcher’s praise of the former Boston University player. “He’s a real smart player,’’ Fletcher said. “He’s ahead of the curve in terms of awareness away from the puck. He’s a highly competitive kid.’’. . .Fletcher doesn’t believe the trip to Europe, followed by another trek to western Canada will hurt the Flyers’ early season performance. “I don’t think so,’’ he said. “It might help us. Give us an opportunity to spend a lot of time together as a group. This will give us a chance to get to know each other.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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