It was a day of movement in Flyers training camp.
Antero Niittymaki was back in the stall he has occupied since coming up to the Flyers from the Phantoms, newly signed goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, moved into the temporary extra stall used only for training camps, and tryout goalie Maxime Ouellet was released.
Niittymaki, who has been sidelined since before the beginning of camp recovering from left hip surgery, was back on the ice yesterday in practice and talking about the possibility of playing next week.
That might be a long shot, but from the way the Finnish goalie is recovering, he is very likely to be on the bench for opening night on Oct. 11.
"I feel pretty good, not 100 percent, but I'm getting there," Niittymaki said. "I'm definitely ahead of time right now. It's only been 2 weeks and they said 4 to 6, so that's a good thing.
"If everything goes OK, hopefully next week. We have to talk to the doctors first to see."
Two seasons ago, Niittymaki had a series of three cortisone injections to keep playing through a right-hip labrum tear. He had offseason surgery to have that repaired.
This surgery was to clean out some damage in his left hip and he does not yet know if he will need similar treatment this season.
"We'll call the doctors and see what they have to say." he said. "I'm not sure what they're thinking yet."
Regardless, Niittymaki was back in net and barring any problems, he'll be back today and soon will be back in a game.
"I was out there for a pretty good half-hour," Niittymaki said. "The plan was to practice for 20 to 30 minutes and do the same thing [today]. Slowly progress and by the end of the week if everything goes well, we'll see.
"I don't think I'm totally healed yet. I'm getting there."
What that means for Aubin is unclear. The Flyers have carried three goalies before, and Aubin was signed for that role.
"We'll see how it plays out," said Aubin, who was signed as a free agent when Niittymaki went out. "You can't really control those things. I'll play as hard as I can when I play and hope that everything goes well.
"If you know your role, it's not that hard. If you don't know anything, it's a little different."
Thirteen players were assigned to the Phantoms and five were released from tryout contracts.
Assigned to the AHL team were defensemen Oskars Bartulis, Tim Ramholt and Mike Ratchuk and forwards Rob Bellamy, Frederik Cabana, Matt Clackson, Garrett Klotz, David Laliberte, Ned Lukacevic, Patrick Maroon, Jon Matsumoto and Nate Raduns, and goalie Jeremy Duchesne.
One prospect still in the mix is Claude Giroux. Giroux, in his first full year as a professional, came into camp with what was believed as the best shot to make the team among the young forwards.
He has not been as impressive as hoped, but he has been improving as camp moves along. He may well start the season with the Phantoms, but he will see NHL games this year, according to coach John Stevens.
"I think Claude has done just OK, to be honest with you," said Stevens. "There is a lot of pressure on this kid to make the team coming in. I think he has gotten better as we move through camp.
"His worst game was probably his first game and his best was his last, so that's what you want to see in these kids. As the pace went up [yesterday] he was one of the young guys that kind of elevated his game a little bit.
"But that's the process a lot of these young guys go through. They come in, they're under the gun to try to make the team, so he's gotten better as we've moved along, which is what we want to see." *