Not surprising after their respective impressive preseasons, Ron Hextall made it official Monday that 19-year-olds Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny would make the Flyers' 20-man roster.
“This isn’t a nine-game tryout or six-game tryout,” Hextall told the media. “Those two kids are on this team right now. And at this point, we expect them to be here all year. They’ve done a good job. They worked hard all summer.”
The full roster will be announced Tuesday but two more youngsters — last year's almost Rookie of the Year Shayne Gostisbehere (23) and forward Nick Cousins (21). The team is younger, which was one of Hextall's goals after slowly shedding many of the Flyers big veteran contracts over the last two seasons.
But after narrowly seizing the last Eastern Conference playoff spot, and subsequently nearly upsetting the Capitals in the first round are the Flyers setting themselves up to regress in 2016-17 by adding less experience and pedigree?
“In a perfect world, you have a couple young kids on your team every year,” Hextall said. “There’s a certain enthusiasm and energy they bring."
The returning roster will include a group of potent offensive weapons like Brayden Schenn (who starts the season suspended), Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. The influx of young talent, which will continue as the Flyers' deep farm system continues to feed more and more NHL ready players, could actually be the change the team needs to make the next step.
“When you become an older player and watch your players and how excited they are to play their first NHL game to see all the new rinks to play every night to be in the NHL, it’s refreshing," Hextall said.
Wily veterans like Mark Streit can also feed off the youthful energy, as the Flyers' top paid defenseman is hoping to make this season — perhaps his last — one that counts.
“I’ve been in the league for a long time,” Streit told the Courier Post. “I never expected to be here for this long. It’s an honor and it’s a privilege playing in the NHL, but I want to enjoy it as much as possible. I don’t want to think what’s going to happen next year. I want to have a fun year with the guys and just have fun playing hockey.”
Provorov and Konecny will make their regular season debuts in orange and black this Friday in Los Angeles when the new campaign officially kicks off.