Flyers

Flyers stock watch: Mikhail Vorobyev has 'knocked the door down'

Flyers stock watch: Mikhail Vorobyev has 'knocked the door down'

It was a rough week for the Flyers with lackluster performances against two inferior teams — the Bruins and Rangers — that both played without a handful of NHL regulars.

Which players have seen their stock rise and fall as we move closer to the final cuts and the opening night roster?

Stock up

Mikhail Vorobyev
I think the Flyers feel confident they’ve found their third-line center. Vorobyev has had a tremendous camp and preseason, so much so that general manager Ron Hextall told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Vorobyev has “knocked the door down” in his efforts to make the squad. Vorobyev has been responsible at both ends of the ice, sees the game much like Claude Giroux does and almost single-handedly ignited a comeback against the Rangers Thursday. No one Flyer has raised their stock as much as Vorobyev has this preseason.

Carter Hart
With injuries to Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth, I simply can’t see how Hart doesn’t back up Brian Elliott to begin the season. His body of work in the preseason doesn’t look like a 20-year-old entering his first year of pro hockey. The numbers are reflective of how well Hart has played, even though he’s had periods in which he hasn’t had much work. He’s kept a level head and has let the game come to him, while not trying to do too much. He didn’t play lights out Thursday, but his final numbers were more of a reflection of his defense.

Corban Knight
If I had to take a stab at Corban Knight’s fate, I’d say he makes this team. Interestingly, Hextall referred to him as a "predictable" player, while coach Dave Hakstol prefers the term "reliable." Whatever adjective you want to use, Knight understands his role and as a veteran player who’s been around, he won’t take unnecessary chances and play outside his comfort zone. He can play in the middle or on the outside and do it responsibly. Plus, I like the tandem of Knight and Scott Laughton on the penalty kill.

Stock down

Jordan Weal
The third-line center role was Weal’s to lose, and he never really seized the opportunity. Weal did a lot of little things well from winning faceoffs to playing responsible defense and showing toughness with the puck, but he doesn’t do well creating time and space with the puck and continues to show a preference of playing around the perimeter, instead of working more in the middle of the ice.

Andrew MacDonald
Understandably, MacDonald started off slow against Boston as he’s been working his way back from an offseason injury. His skating has been shaky as he has fallen to the ice on a couple of occasions. He had a glaring turnover that led to the Rangers' second goal and paired with Radko Gudas, they had quite the adventure against New York. Perhaps MacDonald and Gudas need more time together, but the Flyers will need more out of "Mac" to start the season or they’ll be heavily relying on Shayne Gositsbehere and Ivan Provorov.

James van Riemsdyk
van Riemsdyk finally came to life after Hakstol switched up the lines, taking JVR off that top unit with Jakub Voracek and Nolan Patrick. Prior to that third period, van Riemsdyk has had a lackluster preseason in which he appears to be just a step behind with a few defensive lapses as well. I’m sure there are some adjustments transitioning from Mike Babcock’s system in Toronto, but JVR isn’t quite locked in as he gets reacclimated to Philadelphia.    

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Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault put out his hands as if he wanted a hug.

The head coach was speaking passionately about training camp competition.

He pleaded for one thing.

"You need surprises," Vigneault said last Saturday after Day 2 of Flyers training camp. "We need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That's how your team gets better and we're going to give them an opportunity to do that."

Vigneault hasn't gotten any surprises … yet.

The Flyers could use them. They have a clear opening on their third line. They even have two when you factor in Nolan Patrick's injury. Tyler Pitlick, a projected bottom-six guy, is also hurt. Their defensive pairings are far from sacrosanct. 

Spots are everywhere.

But three exhibition games down, the Flyers have heard only knocks on the door.

Nobody has barged in.

"The battle for the bottom six is, in my mind, fully on," Vigneault said Thursday after morning skate. "It's good. We've got some decisions to make in those positions."

While Morgan Frost's preseason got off to a positive start in Thursday night's 3-1 loss (see observations), the 20-year-old playmaker failed to crack the score sheet playing between James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.

Joel Farabee has impressed during camp and shown flashes in two games, but hasn't blown away the rest. Similar to Frost, Farabee played with high-end talent Thursday — Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier — and couldn't capitalize with production.

German Rubtsov looked a bit tired Thursday and justifiably so as he was playing his third game in four days. The 21-year-old center has done the little things well.

Mikhail Vorobyev, last year's preseason darling (six points in six games), has played not-so-glamorous minutes and on the penalty kill.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel had one of the better performances in the second preseason game but was quiet on the third line and second-unit power play Thursday.

Isaac Ratcliffe brought plenty of intrigue into camp but progression in the AHL will be first on his plate.

Connor Bunnaman has shown promise but seems destined for his second season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, as does Carsen Twarynski.

The older roster hopefuls haven't crushed the kids, either. Andy Andreoff has been inconsistent through two games, Chris Stewart fought in the opener and Kurtis Gabriel is hurt.

The Flyers' four preseason goals have come from van Riemsdyk, Matt Niskanen, Michael Raffl and Chris Bigras.

The remaining preseason slate will be amplified, growing in importance and starting Saturday night against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

"One of the things I've found throughout the years is people say that we make the decisions, but we really don't make the decisions," Vigneault said Monday. "The players make the decisions for us by how they play, how they continue to improve.

"As camp moves forwards, competition is going to get better, it's going to get more demanding on everybody. They'll make the decisions for us by how they play, how they compete and how they perform."

Vigneault asked for surprises.

With four exhibition games left, who's going to give him one?

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Prospects get their shot, competition still up for grabs, more from Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

Prospects get their shot, competition still up for grabs, more from Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

BOX SCORE

The Flyers are winless in the preseason through three games after losing to the Bruins, 3-1, Thursday night.

They haven't scored on the power play and have just four goals total. It's the preseason, though, so nothing to freak out about.

The Flyers have four exhibition games remaining.

Let's get into some observations from the third:

• Morgan Frost was denied a few times in front, including this absolute robbery by Jaroslav Halak.

Frost didn't put up numbers offensively but he showed his skill and was actually at his best on the forecheck. He played hard and didn't look out of place defensively, which is a major plus. The 20-year-old was a positive in his first preseason action.

• Joel Farabee had a so-so game. He created room in front of the net on Matt Niskanen's goal but didn't stand out. It would have been nice to see Farabee or Frost finish some scoring chances. Production will win you a job and on a night when those two prospects played with high-end NHL talent, they didn't produce. The two haven't hurt themselves, but the Flyers will want to see more.

• Claude Giroux looked like himself in his first preseason game. He slipped a pretty pass to Niskanen for the Flyers' only goal. One thing the 32-year-old defenseman provides is sneaky offensive ability, which the Flyers didn't get from their older blueliners last season. Niskanen can help Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. 

• Speaking of defensemen, Justin Braun has been good. General manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault have praised his active stick and we've seen it consistently break up plays.

• The Bruins made a couple of sharp plays on both goals against Brian Elliott, who performed well with 22 saves in two periods of work.

Alex Lyon played the third frame and allowed a breakaway goal.

• The Flyers' third line of Andy Andreoff, German Rubtsov and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was important to watch because all three players are vying for a bottom-six spot. The group was quiet but Andreoff, who was hardly visible in Tuesday's loss, looked better. He was active, fast and opportunistic offensively, creating a chance for Frost early in the game.

Let's be honest, though, nobody has knocked the door down like Mikhail Vorobyev did last preseason, which makes the final four exhibition games that more important (see story).

• Another look at the monstrous scoreboard:

• The Flyers practice Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before welcoming the Rangers Saturday for their fourth exhibition game (7 p.m./NBCSP+).

Travis Konecny is expected to make his preseason debut (see story). Let's see if he can be a spark.

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