Apparently there has been a clamor (or maybe just one angry reader) for an update on the Flyers roster moves that took place today.
So here it is, with analysis. Hope you’re happy, Mr. not-so-random, cranky reader.
Called up were:
- Carsen Twarynski
- German Rubtsov
- Phil Myers
Misha Vorobyev was sent down. Sam Morin was loaned to the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment. Scott Laughton, who has a broken finger, was put on the long-term injury list, freeing up some cap space needed for the Flyers to make these moves.
The three call-ups will be in the lineup tomorrow when the Flyers take on the New Jersey Devils in beautiful downtown Newark.
Coming out of the lineup are Robert Hagg (again) and Tyler Pitlick, who was brutally bad against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
So, what does all this mean for the Flyers?
The reality is it means the Flyers veterans need to be better. There won’t be any changes to the top three lines, but the Flyers need more out of their core, especially the line of James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
JVR has been fine, but Giroux and Voracek seem stuck in neutral. That has to be where it starts for this team to get going in the right direction.
But as for the people directly involved in these roster transactions? Let’s take it one guy at a time:
The Flyers really like Twarynski and his motor. The guy goes all out on every shift. He really fits the style of play coach Alain Vigneault wants to play. However, without many options to be shuttled back and forth to the AHL because of contract specs and without much salary cap flexibility, Twarynski was an unfortunate victim of roster politics and had to be sent down once the Flyers signed Chris Stewart to an NHL contract.
They wanted to get him back up as soon as possible, and Laughton’s injury allowed them to do that. He still might be a guy who has to deal with a couple send downs and call ups this season, but the team prefers to keep him in the NHL more than in the AHL, and will try their best to do that.
Here’s a guy that has been fluctuated in the prospect rankings for a long-time. He was their first round pick in 2016 and there was a lot of offensive promise to his game coming out of Russia.
The Flyers got him to North America and he played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for two seasons. He was underwhelming at times, injured at other times, and not really playing top minutes when he was healthy. Then he was traded in the Q from Chicoutimi to Acadie-Bathurst, where he was asked to play more of a two-way center role. At first, the Flyers management (it was Ron Hextall and friends then) were not happy with the way he was being used, but after a while, they learned that Rubtsov could play a solid two-way game.
So he was signed to his entry-level contract and brought to the AHL. After a quick start with the Phantoms last season, posting 10 points in 14 games, he suffered a season-ending injury.
Rubtsov was impressive in training camp this year and got a long look. He was sent down, but has been solid with the Phantoms, posting six points in seven games. He’ll center the fourth line with Twarynski and Stewart against the Devils, and although you usually don’t want top prospects playing fourth line roles, Rubtsov’s path detoured some in Acadie-Bathurst and he now projects to be a solid third line center with second line upside. As such, playing him on a fourth line is far more acceptable since it’s closer to the role he’ll likely play long-term as opposed to say, Morgan Frost, who projects as a top-6 forward, and thus wasn’t called up this time.
Practically every Flyers fan on Twitter has been clamoring for Myers to be called back up, especially with the defensive struggles the Flyers have had recently. Well, they’re getting their wish. Just don’t expect instant success.
There’s a reason Myers started the season in the AHL. He struggled at times in his debut late in the 2018-19 season, and he didn’t look like he had progressed enough in the preseason.
Yes, he’s been great in the AHL. That means he’s an NHL player, which is great. But, you don’t just become an NHL player overnight. There’s still going to be a learning curve for Myers and it could come at the expense of success for the team.
The Flyers and their fans hope not. He’s going to be paired on the third unit with Travis Sanheim, who has been sub-par to start the season as well. This moves Shayne Gostisbehere, who has also struggled, on to the second pair with Justin Braun. Braun is the kind of defenseman Ghost needs to play with because Braun is a stay-at-home guy that won’t take the risks that Gostisbehere likes to take. But still, this is a worrisome bottom four combination behind Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen, who have been reliable and solid for much of the season thus far.
I’m not sure he’ll ever amount to a regular NHLer. He’s had chance after chance after chance, and it seems every time, he struggles at the NHL level. He goes down to the Phantoms, improves enough to get another look, and then that lack-of-work-ethic stigma that follows him around rears it’s ugly head again.
He might be a guy who just needs a change of scenery.
I’ve made it no secret that I don’t think Morin is an NHL defenseman. However, there are many supporters out there who feel like he hasn’t been given a fair shake. He was dreadful against the Islanders Sunday in his lone game of the season.
The Flyers might still think there is something there, which is why they go out of their way to keep him on their roster – like this phony conditioning assignment – but sooner or later, they’re going to have to make a call on him.
Morin is only allowed to be in the AHL on a conditioning assignment for 14 days. So, the Flyers bought themselves two weeks. Come Nov. 13, they’ll either have to find a way to get him back on the NHL roster, or expose him to the other NHL teams on the waiver wire.
That ought to be an interesting development when the time comes.
Laughton was going to miss time with his injury anyway, so the only thing moving him to long-term injured reserve (LTIR) does is free up cap space for the Flyers in the short-term. However, the Flyers basically have to “pay back” the cap overage created by his being on LTIR in the future, which could impact next season’s cap as well.
Hagg is now the No. 7 defenseman, but only because he doesn’t provide any offensive help. He’s likely a better defensive option than a few guys in the lineup, but if you take them out of the lineup, you lose puck-moving ability and offensive potential. As such, he’s going to be stuck as a healthy scratch unless someone really continues to struggle.
This guy got off to a nice start for the Flyers, which was impressive considering he missed the entire preseason. But he’s been miserable of late, and boy he was as bad as can be against the Penguins Tuesday. Him being scratched is more to get the new guys in the lineup than anything. He’s not going anywhere right now. Expect him back soon.
He gets the start against the Devils because he shut them out earlier this season in the first game at Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers are hoping that gives him the shot of confidence he so sorely needs right now.
If he struggles again, Flyers brass is going to have to really have a conversation about what the best path forward is for their uber-talented, but still-green goalie.