Flyers Roster Update: Bye-bye Guerin
On a conference call today, Paul Holmgren announced some major roster decisions for the start of the season. He announced that the Flyers would be releasing Bill Guerin from his Pro Tryout Contract, and Johan Backlund would be sent down to the Phantoms, along with Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, Jon Kalinski, Mike Testwuide, David Laliberte and Ben Holmstrom.
So, what does this mean for the roster? Well for starters, Sergei Bobrovsky will be on the roster when the Flyers play at Pittsburgh on Thursday. Also, it means bubble forwards Andreas Nodl and Dan Carcillo are also on the team, at least for the time being. That leaves the roster at 23 (13 forwards, 8 defensemen, 2 goalies), assuming both Ian Laperriere and Michael Leighton go on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). If both go on the LTIR, just under $2 million in cap space will be available. So, if the team decides to not place one of the two on LTIR, they have the space to do so (although they would have to clear a roster space).
Holmgren also praised Bobrovsky’s preseason, and said there is a chance that he plays in one of the first two games. Logical thinking would be the second game, when the Flyers take on the Blues in St. Louis, instead of opening night in Pittsburgh. Is keeping Bobrovsky with the big club a smart move? I thought he would be better served in the AHL, getting to play the lion’s share of the minutes, but if he’s going to actually play with the Flyers, it could work out. He’ll gain some experience while Michael Leighton is out.
It’s a shame for Bill Guerin, who was expected to give the Flyers a veteran presence while being able to contribute on any of the top three lines. But Guerin didn’t have a very strong preseason, and he was crunched by the numbers. It seems the team didn’t see him as an upgrade over Andreas Nodl, who played in 10 playoff games for the Flyers last year. Nodl is better defensively than Guerin is, and that probably hurt Guerin’s cause. Nodl’s offensive upside is there, but has yet to be realized, scoring only 1 goal in 58 games (including playoffs) over the last two seasons with the Flyers. Nodl had 14 goals in 65 games last year for the Phantoms.
One other burning question is, who will be the 6th defenseman? Five spots are penned in going to Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn and Andrej Mezsaros. Three guys are battling for the last spot: veteran Sean O’Donnell, youngster Oskars Bartulis, and Matt Walker, who was acquired in the trade for Simon Gagne. Pronger’s status (update in the Ninjury Report), is still questionable for the opener, which could help one of the defensemen get into the lineup. It will be interesting to see which of the three cracks the top-6 as a regular, or if the team will go defenseman by committee. O’Donnell, who played the last two years with the Los Angeles Kings, has my vote as the 6th defenseman.
Will Jody Shelley be the 13th forward? Shelley, who was signed from the Rangers in the offseason, is known for his physical prowess. Most likely, he’ll play against teams with heavyweights, such as the Rangers and Maple Leafs. It’s possible he’s part of a platoon with Nodl, depending on the matchups, while Ian Laperriere is out with post-concussion syndrome.
Holmgren also announced that Chris Pronger would begin practicing tomorrow, in hopes to play Thursday against the Penguins. Pronger has missed all of training camp after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason.
The next update on Ian Laperriere is expected to come Wednesday, so hopefully the news is good for Lappy. He’s still expected to go on the LTIR.
Possibly joining Laperriere on the LTIR is Michael Leighton, which Holmgren said is still a decision that needs to be made. The team would likely have to make a roster move in order to carry three goalies if Leighton is kept on the active roster.