Final cuts were made, and we have a final roster!
Goalie: Steve Mason, Ray Emery
Defensemen: Andrew MacDonald, Braydon Coburn, Mark Streit, Nick Grossmann, Luke Schenn, Michael del Zotto, Nick Shultz
Forwards: Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Vinny Lecavalier, Michael Raffl, RJ Umberger, Pierre-Edouard Bellamare, Blair Jones, Zac Rinaldo, Jason Akeson
Note the absence of Sam Morin on this list. He was kept around until the very end and there was even speculation as to using the first nine games he would be allowed to play in the NHL before sending him back to his junior team to show him the level he had to reach. In the end though, Hextall kept to his word of a plan of patience and development and sent back a man who looked like he could help us right away, a reminder that this season is a rebuilding year.
Note also the absence of Jay Rosehill and Zack Stortini on this list, which means the Flyers will be going into the season without a designated “tough guy”. These duties may primarily fall to Zac Rinaldo (a possibility we discussed earlier here) along with the occasional fights from Simmonds and others. In past years the tough guy may have been deemed a necessity, but the league in general has been moving away from carrying a designated fighter. Go no further than the Rangers playoff series to see the advantages of icing a skilled fourth line.
No team spent more time on special teams than the Flyers last year; they were third in the league in most time spent on the power play with 483:06, and no team spent more time on the penalty kill with 542:16. That comes out to over twelve and a half minutes on special teams a game! Their special teams were so good though (8th in the league on the power play, 7th on the penalty kill) that it helped cover up for the fact that their even strength numbers were abysmal (17th in the league at 0.96 in terms of goals for/against). A skilled fourth line will help make the team better at even strength hockey, giving the top three lines a chance to breathe as well as keeping pressure on the opponent and not giving them an easy shift.
Other notable names not on this list: Scott Laughton. This may be a stretch now, but when do we start discussing him as a bust?
The inclusion of forward Pierre-Edouard Bellamare is a fascinating one as well, and one we touched on here as a possibility. At 29, he will be just the ninth native Frenchman to play in the NHL.
The Flyers season starts this Wednesday against the Bruins in Boston.