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Winger spots beckon as Flyers open rookie camp

As the Flyers open their rookie camp in Voorhees today, several young wingers appear to have the best chance to land roster spots.

As the Flyers open their rookie camp in Voorhees today, several young wingers appear to have the best chance to land roster spots.

The departures of Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul have left holes at wing. That's a positive for the likes of James van Riemsdyk, Andreas Nodl, and Patrick Maroon, who are among the wingers the Flyers have drafted in recent years.

It also could benefit Ryan Dingle, a scrappy winger acquired with star defenseman Chris Pronger in the deal that sent Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two first-round draft picks, and a conditional draft selection to Anaheim in June.

The four winger candidates will be among the 29 prospects at the five-day rookie camp at the Skate Zone. The veteran camp, for 59 veterans and prospects, will begin with physicals Saturday and on-ice competition Sunday.

General manager Paul Holmgren said there would be battles for three wing positions.

"I never remember this many spots open," he said. "That's what camp is for, and that's why the competition will be so keen."

The Flyers will use the veteran camp to figure out whether Danny Briere, newcomer Ian Laperriere, or both will be used at center or right wing. The only definite at right wing appears to be Arron Asham.

"We have some centers who can play wing. Is that the right way to do it? We're not sure right now," Holmgren said.

Training camp will determine that.

Van Riemsdyk, the No. 2 overall pick in 2007, will be given every opportunity to make the team.

"And we'll take a close look at Patrick Maroon, too," Holmgren said of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound left winger. With 23 goals, "he had a good year with the Phantoms, and he's improved his overall fitness and conditioning. He's a big kid."

The main left wingers could be Scott Hartnell, who can play either wing position; Simon Gagne; and Dan Carcillo.

The rookie camp will conclude Friday with a game between the Flyers' and Washington Capitals' prospects at 3 p.m. Before the game, at 2 p.m., three Flyers will take shots at a block of ice that conceals the Winter Classic jersey the team will wear against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Fenway Park. Fans can preorder the jersey.

Starting Friday at the Skate Zone, the Flyers will have hockey clinics, autograph sessions, inflatable hockey games, face-painting, and poster-making during training camp. The team's Web site,, has more information. All events are free.

The Flyers' first exhibition games will be Sept. 16 at Detroit, Sept. 17 against Toronto in London, Ontario; and Sept. 19 at Toronto. The first exhibition at the Wachovia Center will be Sept. 22 against Detroit. The Flyers will open the regular season Oct. 2 at Carolina, with the home opener Oct. 6 against Washington.

Breakaways. Holmgren said Gagne, who injured his right groin during recent workouts with Team Canada, "won't be rushed back, but we're confident he'll be ready to go by the start of the season." . . . Tyler Hostetter, a former member of the Junior Flyers, will be at the rookie camp. He participated in the 2006 Flyers Cup with Warwick High of Lititz, Pa. . . . The Flyers have sold a little more than 13,000 season tickets, about the same as last year.

Flyers in Voorhees

Rookies will practice at the two rinks 9 a.m. to noon and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow through Thursday.

During veteran camp Sunday, next Monday, and Sept. 15, the rinks will be used from 9 a.m. to noon and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All sessions are free and open to the public.