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Flyers’ crowded defense bears watching

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Bruce Bennett

Even after the departure of Nicklas Grossmann, the Philadelphia Flyers still have quite the logjam on defense.

Add it up and there will be 13 -- thirteen! -- d-men trying to crack the roster when training camp opens Thursday.

Eight of those 13 are on one-way contracts: Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Andrew Macdonald, Nick Schultz, Evgeni Medvedev, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning.

The other five are well-regarded prospects who can either be returned to junior or sent to the AHL without being exposed to waivers: Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, and Robert Hagg.

For GM Ron Hextall, it’s great to have all that young talent, but a short-term challenge nonetheless -- especially if one or two of those youngsters proves he belongs in the NHL.

Could Hextall try and trade another veteran? Sure. But he may not get full value, given the tight market.

If he tries to send Manning to the AHL, would another team make a waiver claim? The 25-year-old may not be a future superstar, but losing him for nothing would be less than ideal.

Hextall said over the summer that much will depend on how the youngsters look during the preseason: “Someone comes into camp and lights it up. Then we will do what we can to create a spot.”

But then, more recently, he said: “You can’t sit and say, ‘We’ll make room,’ because you don’t know until you get there. If a guy comes in and we think he’s going to make us a better team throughout the course of the year - and not just for two weeks - we’ll look at options. But we’re not going to put a kid in the lineup that is not ready.”

Related: Something will “have to give” on Flyers’ blue line