The math is pretty simple.
The Flyers have eight defensemen signed to one-way NHL contracts entering the season. However, only six play each game.
It leaves at least two players as the odd men out – and likely listed as healthy scratches. The candidates, all eight of them are: Brandon Manning, Andrew MacDonald, Mark Streit, Luke Schenn, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas, Yevgeni Medvedev and Nick Schultz.
Despite the already overload of D-men, Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall said the many highly-touted defensive prospects in the organization still have a chance to make the team.
“I think people have the impression I am going to send kids down,” Hextall told reporters last week ahead of the rookie training camp that starts on Sept. 14. “That is not the case.”
Yeah, but …
“I do tend to err on the side of not putting a guy in where we think it’s too early,” Hextall added.
The perfect example was last year. Sam Morin, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, had an outstanding training camp and was impressive during the preseason games.
It didn’t matter as Hextall sent him back to juniors for a second straight season. The GM feels it was the right move.
“In the end, there is no doubt in my mind we made the best choice,” he said. “It was tempting, though. He’s kind of the type of player that we need – big guy, skates well and has a good defensive stick. But in the end we made the right decision.”
When evaluating prospects, Hextall is looking for a player that will have an impact for the entire season.
“They’re going to have to prove to us as a staff that they are going to make us a better team for 82 games,” Hextall said. “Certain kids play real well for a month, and they’ve kind of got that extra jump that they are in the NHL. Then all of a sudden they fall off. … If he can’t (help us for 82 games) then he’s not ready to play at this level.”
The simple message from the GM is although the math isn’t in their favor, the prospects have a shot – albeit a slim one – to break camp with the Flyers.
“There’s so much that’s going to happen between now and say October 1st, so it’s really hard to predict,” Hextall said. “But, our goal is to put the best team out on the ice possible for this season and obviously we will keep in mind the development of our young players.”