LAS VEGAS — No matter how the names may have been arranged when Flyers camp started, the third line center position was never Jordan Weal’s to lose.
“I don’t think he was penciled in,” general manager Ron Hextall said, “He had a chance to earn that spot. Has he had a great camp? No. I wouldn’t say that, but he showed enough of his cleverness and his moxie with the puck, but hasn’t quite executed to the level he’s capable of.”
“Vorobyev has been the best player in that position. It’s as simple as that.”
Apparently, Weal’s level is now several notches from earning a spot among the top 12 forwards on the team. After Wednesday’s practice, Weal appears to be the odd man out, along with Dale Weise, when the Flyers drop the puck Thursday in their season opener.
Regardless of Hextall’s assessment, Weal stood by his preseason work.
“Nothing more,” Weal said when asked what he could have done differently. “I think I’m doing really good and playing well. I just got to bide my time and not worry about the lineup they got out here.”
It certainly doesn’t help Weal’s cause that he’s not part of the team’s penalty kill pairings either, which may be the primary reason why Jori Lehtera will handle the fourth-line center position over Weal, at least to start the season.
“He’s a responsible player,” Hextall said of Lehtera, “There’s a fit there. I see Jordan as more of a top-nine guy. Doesn’t mean he can’t play an 8-minute role, but Jori in a small role, he proved last year he can do a good job.”
Picking up Pickard
Goaltender Calvin Pickard has not joined the organization yet.
Claimed off waivers Tuesday from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pickard is dealing with immigration and customs issues, which can be a hangup of claiming a player off a Canadian team.
Hextall believes the problem should be resolved soon, but injuries to Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth forced the general manager to look elsewhere.
“I don’t know how this is going to shake out. I truly don’t know,” Hextal said. “We felt good about grabbing Calvin.”
Hextall’s history with Pickard goes back to selecting the goaltender for Team Canada at the 2017 World Championships when Hextall served as GM of that team as well.
The Flyers don’t anticipate Pickard joining the team prior to the game in Vegas, but he should be available against his former team, the Avalanche, when the Flyers play in Denver Saturday night.
A less-than-ideal situation, there’s a solid chance the Flyers will carry three goaltenders as Pickard has to be on the team’s roster for the first 10 games or 30 days of the season, and with that, a chance that Anthony Stolarz could be placed on waivers.
“We’ll cross that bridge,” said Hextall. “You can’t sit and not make a move because you’re worried about guys getting picked up. If you believe it’s the right move, you do it.”