Flyers

What will Flyers do if Shayne Gostisbehere misses time?

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USA Today Images

What will Flyers do if Shayne Gostisbehere misses time?

TORONTO — After Shayne Gostisbehere left Saturday night's 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury, the Flyers could be in jeopardy of losing two key defensemen in the span of a week.

Gostisbehere's status for Monday's game against Arizona remains in question. The Flyers did not have an update on the third-year defenseman Sunday but did recall defenseman Samuel Morin from the Phantoms.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall now has the attention of those aboard the Flyers' express who may not have given a second thought there could be this degree of turbulence in the first month of the season.

"I always use a number — 10 defensemen," Hextall said a week ago after Andrew MacDonald suffered a lower-body injury. "We've done that for years, where you have 10 guys who can play a few games if need be and it's hard.

"It happens and it happens quick, and you've got to have guys that can play. Maybe they're not full-time players yet or even will be, but they can play a few games. An important part of an organization is having depth."

Supplying organizational depth must be on the radar of any NHL GM, especially during the calmness of the summer months. While the Flyers aren't quite at that point of panic, Hextall is now looking at possibly playing his eighth defenseman on that 10-man pecking order.

When the season began Oct. 4 in San Jose, the Flyers had the luxury of mixing and matching their defensive pairings based on skill set and familiarity of playing on the left or right side, while also casting rookies in a role and a responsibility that wouldn't necessarily overwhelm them.

At that time, eight defensemen was simply a good problem to have. Now, it’s a problem that may have to be solved before Monday night.

The Nos. 8, 9 and 10 hitters in the Flyers' lineup of blueliners were Morin, veteran T.J Brennan and right-hander Mark Alt, who has played just one NHL game. Brennan is currently unavailable, still a week or two away from a return from injury.

Hextall opted with Morin, who at the least will serve as the seventh defenseman Monday night depending on if Gostisbehere is available.

When camp opened in September, Hextall believed he had enough reserve that it didn't warrant bringing in a veteran on a professional tryout. Mark Streit, 40, signed a one-year deal with the defensively-dismal Canadiens and has already been released.

Streit has been seen working out on his own at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

"It's not easy," Hextall said. "It's not easy to keep depth with 31 teams now, and quite frankly, I don't believe there's enough (players)."

Unless Hextall elects to go outside the organization, Morin is the likely and most obvious choice here.

"I don't anticipate (signing someone)," Hextall said a week ago. "We've got enough guys down there who we think can play on a day-to-day basis. We got guys down there, multiple guys, we feel can fill in for us when need be."

Then, the more pressing questions will be left for head coach Dave Hakstol, who will be tasked with trying to maintain order on the back end.

Following the loss of MacDonald, there were indeed some rough patches. Hakstol paired rookies Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg together in Ottawa, which lasted all of 20 minutes before that plan was scrapped. There was a considerable amount of mixing and matching before the Flyers finally settled down in Toronto, and then Gostisbehere's injury happened.

What could the Flyers be faced with for Monday’s game against a winless Arizona team if Gostisbehere doesn't play?

Ivan Provorov-Hagg
Two of the Flyers' most consistent defensemen so far, and after Gostisbehere went down with an injury in Toronto, Provorov and Hagg were the top two in minutes played.

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
This pair has played rather effectively in the games when Sanheim was scratched: San Jose, Washington, Florida — all Flyers victories. Hakstol should feel somewhat comfortable again, even though they’ll be tasked with playing against more talented lines.

Morin-Sanheim
Here’s Hakstol’s conundrum. He could elect to spread out his three rookies among his pairings or he could roll the dice and see how Morin and Sanheim respond together. I have a hard time believing he would put this much inexperience on the ice, but we saw it in Ottawa. Otherwise, a Manning-Sanheim combo would be the likelier choice.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

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JustSports Photography

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

Flyers fans still have some hockey to watch.

Some of the organization's brightest prospects will be competing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from Wednesday into the weekend as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their AHL playoff run in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Phantoms trail the Toronto Marlies, 2-0, with the series now shifting to the PPL Center for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

What should Flyers fans know?

Let's get into it:

1. When to watch
Game 3 is tonight at 7:05 p.m. Game 4 follows Friday at 7:05 p.m. with Game 5 (if needed) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

2. Where to watch
All three games will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. For which channel in your area, click here.

3. Who to watch
• Defenseman Travis Sanheim returned from a four-game absence (knee injury) to play in the first two games of this series. The 2014 first-round pick had 16 points in 18 regular-season games with Lehigh Valley. When he rejoined the Flyers on March 10, he was a plus-4 over 14 games to help the big club clinch a playoff berth. "When Sanny got back up, I thought Sanny was unbelievable," Wayne Simmonds said last month.

• Winger Oskar Lindblom went scoreless in Games 1 and 2 but has seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine playoff games. He played 23 games with the Flyers this season and impressed alongside Nolan Patrick. The 21-year-old is a building block and the goal will be to make the Flyers out of training camp in the fall.

• Everybody knows Alex Lyon now after his Herculean effort during the semifinals in which he made 94 saves for a five-overtime victory. He's been superb through the postseason, recording a 1.84 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in nine games. It's been a timely stretch for him ahead of an important offseason

• Defenseman Philippe Myers is another exciting piece to the Flyers' future on the blue line. The 21-year-old is 6-foot-5 and developing but fought through injuries in 2017-18. He's making up for some of those tough times with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 postseason games.

• Don't forget about Mike Vecchione, a hard-working forward who will be in the picture next season. The 25-year-old put up 40 points in his first year pro and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 playoff games.

4. However …
You won't see touted prospects Morgan Frost and Carter Hart.

With their junior campaigns coming to an end recently, both have joined the Phantoms but are not expected to play; they're simply there for the exposure.

5. This and that
• Lehigh Valley won an AHL-most 27 games at home during the regular season, losing just six times in regulation.

• Toronto is 2-2-0 on the road in the postseason compared to 7-0-0 at home.

• Chris Conner, 34, leads the Phantoms in the playoffs with five goals and nine points.

• Lehigh Valley has allowed a league-high 43 power-play opportunities during the postseason, while Toronto has gone on a league-high 55 man advantages.

• Defenseman Samuel Morin is out for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury that is requiring surgery, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi.