Don’t read anything into the latest round of cuts, warned general manager Chuck Fletcher. The Flyers clubhouse early in the season will be more fluid than the presidential Cabinet.
“I anticipate an awful lot of roster changes the first six weeks of the year,” Fletcher said. “Our goal right now is to get a roster to play Chicago in Prague [on Oct. 4 in the season opener]. When we get back, I’m sure there will be things we’ll need to do as we move forward. [But] right now, it’s just about getting ready for Prague."
The Flyers sent seven players to the AHL on Tuesday. Prospects Carsen Twarynski, Connor Bunnaman, and Joel Farabee, and veteran Chris Stewart were among those who survived.
Forwards German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyev, and defenseman Mark Friedman went directly to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Forwards Andy Andreoff, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Kurtis Gabriel, and defenseman Chris Bigras must first clear waivers before they can report to the Flyers’ top affiliate. It is expected they will.
This leaves the Flyers roster at 27, including injured players Nolan Patrick, Tyler Pitlick, Andy Welinski, and Morgan Frost, entering Thursday night’s exhibition game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers (7 p.m., no TV). They must be at a maximum of 23 players by Oct. 1, though Fletcher indicated they could start the season carrying fewer.
“We could even carry 20 or 21,” said Fletcher. “We’ll just have to see how the [salary] cap situation and how the math works out.”
The Flyers’ final preseason game will be against Lausanne HC in Switzerland on Monday (2 p.m., NHLN, NBCSP+). They will bring as many as 25 players on the European trip, including three goaltenders: starter Carter Hart, and backups Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon.
The season opener in Prague counts as one of the Flyers’ 41 home games. After a quick stop at the Wells Fargo Center for the Oct. 9 home opener against rival New Jersey, the Flyers play three games in western Canada, Oct. 12-16.
“I can’t stress [enough] that we’re going to put a roster together to play against Chicago, but we certainly reserve the right to immediately make changes for the New Jersey game or for the Vancouver game,” Fletcher said. “There’s going to be an ebb and flow of players between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley for the early part of the season, depending on who we’re playing, the health of our team, [or] whether we need right shots or left shots, or wingers or center men.”
Fletcher did not have an update on Patrick (upper body) but said winger Pitlick’s left wrist is about 75 percent healed after surgery last month. It’s unclear, the GM said, whether Pitlick would be available for the opener. He is skating but not ready for contact. Frost strained his groin and could be back in about a week.
The first episode of this season’s Behind The Glass, the NHL Network’s look at Flyers training camp, premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. Other dates for the four-part series are Sept. 30, Oct. 7, and Oct. 14 (all Mondays). Think of it like HBO’s Hard Knocks except for the ice and a lot of people who say “Eh?” ... The Toronto Maple Leafs released goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who was battling undisclosed injuries throughout camp. Neuvirth, 31, had been with the Flyers the last four years (77 starts) and has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career.