Since obtaining the number two pick in the NHL draft lottery, Flyers fans have been blessed with an opportunity to see Hextall’s plan take shape. Fans were able to see the plethora of rookies during training camp and preseason games these past couple of weeks.
Depth could be a strong suit for the Flyers this upcoming season. On paper, this team could have one of the best offensive 4th lines in the league. Two rookie forwards are battling for a spot on an already crowded roster, but nonetheless, Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom have each deserved their spot.
Patrick is already showing signs of chemistry with Wayne Simmonds. Patrick’s defensive ability is having a strong showing this early in camp. Not only his defensive abilities but his offensive abilities as well. Patrick helps open up the ice and create plays from behind the net. A big-body center that is always scraping in the corners is exactly what this team needs, along with scoring goals.
Lindblom wants to score and he wants to be strong along the boards. He said this in a recent interview, and if you have been watching him, you can see those two things are exactly what his game is about. He creates chances and he fights for pucks. Having a player like Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier to help practice against, that is a huge aspect that could help Lindblom’s game expand even more than it already has.
When it comes to these two forwards specifically, fans should count on seeing them opening night for the Flyers.
That was the simple part…
When it comes to Travis Sanheim, he is making Ron Hextall’s job very difficult. Hextall has said that if three rookies come in and are better than others and can help this team move forward, he would have to make that move.
With the current structure of the defensive core, if a third rookie is going to make the Flyers opening day roster, MacDonald will most likely have to be the odd man out and be moved to the Phantoms. Does Hextall make that judgment call? If Travis Sanheim’s strong outings continue, it has to be a major possibility.
Morin and Hagg are players that have nothing left to learn in the AHL. It is time to adjust to the NHL. It is time to start learning the professional game on a daily basis. That is another reason why Patrick is almost a sure lock. Sanheim brings an offensive aspect that will be deadly with the combination of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. Not only will these players make mistakes together, but they will also grow together. The chemistry that could grow while these players are still entering their prime is another aspect which makes Hextall’s plan that much better.
If Sanheim does not make the roster, count on him being the first one called up due to an injury or trade.