There were few surprises Tuesday morning when the Flyers announced their official opening night roster.
As coach John Tortorella predicted the past few days, both starting goaltender Carter Hart and Cam Atkinson were listed among the 20 players expected to take the ice on Thursday night for a home game against the New Jersey Devils.
Neither Hart nor Atkinson saw action in the preseason due to injuries.
Speaking of goalies, Samuel Ersson will start the season as Hart’s backup, in part because Felix Sandstrom was placed on the Injured Non-Roster List.
The Flyers also made it official regarding defenseman Ryan Ellis’ status. Ellis (pelvic area injury) was placed on Long Term Injured Reserve and, as general manager Chuck Fletcher recently pointed out, the injury could very well be season-ending.
Sean Couturier (back surgery) was placed on Injured Reserve along with Bobby Brink and Patrick Brown (back surgery) on the Injured Non-Roster List.
Also on Tuesday morning, the Flyers recalled forwards Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski plus defenseman Egor Zamula from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They had been assigned to the Phantoms on Monday for salary cap compliance.
The 11 forwards who might suit up for the Flyers include: Atkinson, Noah Cates, Nic Deslauriers, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Laczynski, Scott Laughton, Owen Tippett and James van Riemsdyk.
The seven eligible defensemen on the roster: Ronnie Attard, Justin Braun, Tony DeAngelo, Ivan Provorov, Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanheim and Nick Seeler.
Hart and Ersson will share goaltending duties, with Sandstrom in the mix once he recovers from his injury.
Although Tortorella hasn’t formally announced his lines, defense pairings and starting goalie, it looks like Hart will be in net and the first four defensemen will be DeAngelo-Provorov and Ristolainen-Sanheim. As for the third tandem, Braun and Seeler have been working together quite a bit in practice.
Up front, look for Hayes to possibly center a first line with Laughton on left wing and Konecny on right. Frost might center a second line with JVR on left and Atkinson on right. The X-factor is Farabee, who was skating on a third line with Cates and Tippett recently but could move up depending on how much ice time he’s allowed coming off neck surgery. The fourth line could have Tanner Laczynski centering Nic Deslauriers, with either a rotating player from another line or Hayden Hodgson.
Beyond the first game, Allison could very well be in the mix on the right wing at some point.
Regarding that potential fourth line, its size alone should fear strike a bit of fear into opponents’ hearts. Deslauriers goes 6-foot-1, 220 pounds and gets the gloves off as fast as anyone in the NHL. Both Laczynski and Hodgson also are over 6-feet tall and the 200-pound mark.
Laczynski, who has been hampered by a pair of hip surgeries over the past couple seasons, sounds healthy and ready to graduate to the NHL at the rather untender age of 25. Better late than never.
“I’ve been through a lot these past two seasons,’’ he admitted after Monday’s practice in Voorhees, N.J. “I feel like it’s been a hard start to my pro career. I feel like all my hard work and dedication is finally paying off.’’
At some point in upcoming games, a line of Deslauriers, Laczynski and Hodgson would be tough to play against.
“I feel like all three of us bang bodies, (go) hard on the forecheck, possess the puck in the offensive zone,’’ Laczynski said. “Just get in on the forecheck and cause some disruption. Even in the preseason games we had some good looks.’’
Fletcher is scheduled to address the media on Wednesday morning at the Flyers Training Center to discuss the upcoming season.