Flyers keep three goalies for opening night roster

Felix Sandstrom
      The only real surprise to come out of Monday’s final Flyers’ NHL-mandated roster cutoff was the intention to carry three goaltenders for the start of the season.
      How long that arrangement will last is anybody’s guess.

      The Flyers reduced their roster to the necessary maximum of 23 players, going with the three goalies (Carter Hart, Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom), 13 forwards and seven defensemen.

      >FORWARDS

       Cam Atkinson, Bobby Brink, Noah Cates, Sean Couturier, Nick Deslauriers, Joel Farabee, Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost, Garnet Hathaway, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Ryan Poehling, Owen Tippett.

      >DEFENSEMEN

      Emil Andrae, Travis Sanheim, Nick Seeler, Marc Staal, Sean Walker, Cam York, Egor Zamula.

      >GOALTENDERS

      Samuel Ersson, Carter Hart, Felix Sandstrom

      In addition, the Flyers have also listed defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen on Injured Reserve. Forward J.R. Avon is on Injured Non-Roster list.

      As recently as last week, the Flyers said they were only going to go with Hart and Ersson in goal for the season opener at Columbus on Thursday night.

      But that changed with Monday’s announcement.

      Also, the Flyers decided to keep both rookie forwards – Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster. The Flyers made space by putting Wade Allison on waivers last week. He cleared and went to Lehigh Valley (AHL).

      On defense, rookie Emil Andrae made the team as a first-year player. The Flyers had considered going with eight backliners but instead went with seven.

      >Better locker room this year?

      It wasn’t exactly a secret that the Flyers’ locker room and certain coach-player relationships weren’t exactly ideal last season.

      Certain players appeared to be less than happy with then-new head coach John Tortorella and vise versa. By the end of the season, defenseman Tony DeAngelo was scratched from the lineup on a nightly basis and Kevin Hayes simply bowed his head when the coach’s name was mentioned.

      Those situations were clearly rectified in the offseason with Hayes going to the St. Louis Blues, DeAngelo placed on waivers (he wound up in Carolina) and Ivan Provorov eventually landing in Columbus via a three-way trade. No attempts were made to re-sign free-agent-to-be James van Riemsdyk.

      To help fill some of those vacancies, the Flyers went both the free-agent and trade routes.

      They signed free agents Marc Staal on defense plus Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Poehling at forward along with acquiring defenseman Sean Walker via the Provorov trade.

      It’s Tortorella’s hope that the reconfigured roster can help get all his players on the same page. It makes for easier and better communication. Nobody wants malcontents moping around the rink.

      Tortorella has already noticed the difference.

      “To me it’s night and day,” he said. “I think it’s one of the biggest improvements. Kevin’s gone, Tony’s gone. . .it’s not so much the people, those are really good people, ‘Provy’ and JVR. Really good people.

      “Where we’re at now, we’re almost taking a different look in the room. I think it just gives people a chance to express themselves. And I’m not saying Kevin and Tony said, ‘shut up, we don’t want. . .’ It’s just the athletes in today’s game are so respectful – respect the hierarchy of the locker room and they don’t feel they can react the way they want to when they need to and they just don’t feel comfortable.”

      Perhaps the mood will lighten up a little now that the Flyers are going full speed ahead on a rebuild and expectations aren’t so high this season.

      “I think this opens it up a bit,” Tortorella said. “You know, we talk about rebuilding. I thought we were doing it last year. Right from the get-go I thought our locker room needed to change. I think this is a huge part that’s already started in this year’s rebuild.”

      The more players that can get involved in the process, the better. Maybe that’s why the coach is sticking with his “no captain” philosophy for a second straight season.

      “You know, I don’t get anything accomplished on the ice until I get that locker room straightened out,” the coach said. “I think we’re really strong there. I really like what’s happening there.”

      It helps when veterans such as Staal and Hathaway buy in right away. It would be a little pretentious on their part if they didn’t but their reputations as hard workers with no hidden agendas preceded them, so that might have factored into their signings in the first place.

      “I don’t what they’re saying in the room, those guys,” Tortorella said. “I know what they do on the ice. Both those players, they know one way and that’s the right way. They play hard. Hathaway has played hard every practice, every game. It’s just all business.

      “Staal, I wouldn’t say he’s an emotionally/go-get-‘em type. But he’s a great competitor. To add those two guys, to see them with our young guys, it’s a real important part of where we are right now.”

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About Wayne Fish 2237 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.