Decisions, Decisions

Posted: October 3, 2011 by Realdeal in AHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Prospects
Tags: , , , , , , ,

All around the NHL, teams will have to make decisions on their rosters before Wednesday’s deadline.  In particular, the transformed Flyers are going to have to make some tough roster choices.

Right now there are 15 locks for spots (8 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies) on the current team ( Briere, Giroux, Hartnell, Jagr, Simmonds, Talbot, van Riemsdyk, Voracek, Carle, Coburn, Meszaros, Pronger, Timonen, Bobrovsky, Bryzgalov).  Blair Betts is a pretty safe bet. This leaves 6 or 7 spots open with about $7.7 million cap space.

Does first round pick Sean Couturier make the Flyers?

There are six forwards fighting for four jobs.  Two veterans, Andreas Nodl and Jody Shelley, along with four rookies, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo and Brayden Schenn.  Shelley counts towards the cap while he serves his five game suspension, and could possibly be relegated to the 13th forward once his punishment is up.  Schenn has been hampered by an upper body injury, which may have opened the door for first round pick Couturier.  If he’s sent to the Phantoms, Schenn will get a chance to heal up and will get plenty of ice time to continue his development. Couturier has impressed enough to be considered among the final cuts, and it sounds like he will make the opening night roster.  Whether he’s on the roster for nine games, or the entire season remains to be seen.  If he plays 10 games, the first year of Couturier’s contract is used up and if he plays 11 games, his contract counts against the organization’s 50 (the Flyers are at the max).  So it’s possible he will be on the roster for the first nine games and sent back to junior.  Read has made a good case to stay with the team and it’s reported he’s all but on the roster.  Read’s emergence could make Nodl expendable.   But Nodl might benefit (for now) with Shelley suspended.  Like with Couturier, Rinaldo might be on the opening night roster but may not be through the season.  He’s shown restraint in the preseason, but his prior transgressions are still in the minds of everyone.  If he can control himself, he can be a solid energy player.  Plus he’s cheap ($544k).

This also takes into account that Ian Laperriere will be on Wednesday’s roster, and moved to LTIR on Thursday.  So players listed who would be on the opening night roster, might not be on the roster Wednesday.  

Forwards: Couturier, Nodl, Read, Rinaldo, Shelley (suspended)

Defensively, the team has three guys fighting for one or two jobs.  Andreas Lilja was signed in the offseason.  He’s a solid defenseman who doesn’t really stand out, but does the little things.  Matt Walker has had the best preseason of the three, but his $1.7m price tag might be too high for the Flyers to handle.  Oskars Bartulis’ chances increase because he makes the least of the three ($600k).  The team could fit Walker in right now, but would have trouble with the cap if they decide to call up Schenn.

Defense: Lilja, Bartulis

With those players, the roster would be at 23, and have $1.6m in space.  Obviously this can change before the end of the month when Couturier’s allowance is up and when Shelley comes off of his suspension.  The team could carry an extra forward while Shelley is suspended (Nodl, Rinaldo?).  If the team decides to send Couturier to juniors and keep Schenn in the AHL for a little longer (ala Giroux), they could keep another forward until they deem Schenn ready.

But with Paul Holmgren at the helm, who knows what he has up his sleeve.

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