Gone, but not for long

GM Fletcher ex­pects those play­ers cut Tues­day to still get their shot with team

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Wayne Fish For more from Wayne Fish, see Fly­ingFishHoc­key.com.

VOORHEES. N.J. — 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 AubeKubel, 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 con­fer­ence call 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, so there are still at least three or four more moves to be made — and they won’t be easy.

“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, the in­jured Morgan Frost, 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.

“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 with 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 as if 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.’’

BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY

German Rubtsov was cut by Flyers on Tues­day, but the Rus­sian for­ward has a chance to be back with Philadel­phia early in the sea­son.

MATT SLOCUM/AP

Flyers rookie Joel Farabee sur­vived the lat­est rounds of train­ing camp cuts.

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