After consecutive listless losses, the Flyers shook up their roster Thursday and added three young players from their top minor-league affiliate.
They recalled defenseman Phil Myers, center German Rubtsov, and winger Carsen Twarynski from the AHL’s Phantoms, placed center/winger Scott Laughton on long-term injured reserve, and sent center Misha Vorobyev and defenseman Samuel Morin to Lehigh Valley.
Morin went to the Phantoms on a conditioning stint, which can last up to two weeks.
By placing Laughton on the LTIR list, the Flyers gained $2.3 million in cap room and were able to recall players. All three recalled players are expected to be in the lineup Friday in New Jersey.
When he plays, Rubtsov, 21,will make his NHL debut. Rubtsov, the Flyers’ first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2016 draft, had six points and a plus-4 rating in seven games with the Phantoms this season. A shoulder injury limited him to 14 AHL qames (six goals, 10 points) last season.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said Rubtsov was “remarkably consistent for a 21-year-old and plays the game the right way defensively. The idea with him going to Lehigh Valley was to allow him to get more offensive puck touches, maybe play some power play, try to develop the offensive part of his game. ... We’re very confident the can come in and play well away from the puck, compete and use his size and hockey sense to his advantage.”
Laughton had successful surgery Wednesday on his right index finger and is expected to be sidelined for three or four weeks, according to Fletcher.
The Flyers (5-5-1) lost to the Islanders and Penguins by a combined 12-4 score over their last two games, and new coach Alain Vigneault has not been pleased with his veterans.
“Our leaders have to lead by their play on the ice,” he said after Tuesday’s embarrassing 7-1 loss in Pittsburgh. On Wednesday, he said he needed more from Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
The Flyers are counting on the young players to help energize a lineup that looked stale in the losses to the Islanders and Pittsburgh.
Twarynski, 21, had a goal and a plus-1 rating in six games with the Flyers earlier this season before being surprisingly being sent to the Phantoms. Myers, 22, was one of their last cuts in training camp. He played 21 games for the Flyers last season and showed lots of promise.
In six games this season with Lehigh Valley, Myers had four assists and was plus-8. Twarynski had no points in two games with the Phantoms, but he gave the Flyers rugged play in his brief early-season stint.
Fletcher said six defensemen played better than Myers in training camp.
“Having said that, I thought he had a pretty good camp,” he said. "He’s gone down, played big minutes, and played well. He’s earned the right to be back up here. We knew it would be a matter of time, and part of the reason we let him go down was to play big minutes, play power play, play penalty kill. Let him get his game to regular-season level versus training camp level.”
Before the season, Fletcher said there would be a lot of player movement between the Flyers and Lehigh Valley early in the season as the big-league team tried to find the right combinations.
He is making good on that promise.
Rubtsov figures to center a fourth line Friday that is expected to have Twarynski as one of his wingers. Tyler Pitlick will likely be a healthy scratch.
Based on practice Thursday, Myers will replace Robert Hagg and will be paired with Travis Sanheim. Justin Braun (minus-8) will be paired with Shayne Gostisbehere.
As for Morin, Fletcher said the 6-foot-7, 230-pound defenseman was excited to play in some games with the Phantoms. He was a healthy scratch in 10 of the Flyers’ 11 games.
“We wanted to get to a part in Lehigh’s schedule where there were a meaningful number of games," Fletcher said. “Over the next two weeks, they play seven games, he’ll probably play up to six, unless we need him beforehand.”
When Morin returns to the Flyers, “he should be playing at a higher level and hopefully the coaches then will have the trust to use him more often,” Fletcher said.