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Flyers send down Gostisbehere after promising camp

Speedy defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, 101/2 months removed from knee surgery, opened eyes at the Flyers' training camp before being sent down to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday.

Shayne Gostisbehere, despite showing promise, was sent down to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Shayne Gostisbehere, despite showing promise, was sent down to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms.Read morePhoto by Sam Carchidi

Speedy defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, 101/2 months removed from knee surgery, opened eyes at the Flyers' training camp before being sent down to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday.

In three preseason games, he had three goals, but his defensive play was uneven.

"We're very excited about him," general manager Ron Hextall said after watching practice Saturday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. "Quite honestly, if you would have told me he'd come into camp and do as well as he's done, I'd have been thrilled."

Center Nick Cousins and defenseman Robert Hagg were also sent to the Phantoms, leaving the Flyers with 26 players in camp. They have three more cuts coming before their Oct. 8 opener in Tampa, and Hextall said he would like to have his roster set before the final preseason game Friday in New Jersey.

Last season, Gostisbehere was limited to seven games - five with the Phantoms, two with the Flyers - because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, requiring surgery Nov. 13. He showed great speed and no ill effects in this year's training camp.

"Ghost is going down there for specific reasons," coach Dave Hakstol said. "After he got through the first couple of days here . . . his play with the puck got better and better each day. He's going to go there, and he's going to work to complete his play without the puck. You can't skip that step of the process, developmentally. That's going to be a real good challenge for him there."

It would be surprising if Gostisbehere, 22, didn't return to the Flyers at some point this season.

"He was fun to play with, and I think he's going to make the jump real soon," captain Claude Giroux said.

After a slow start to camp, Gostisbehere "really came on," Hextall said. ". . . He does a really, really good job when he has the puck, and I think defensively there are some things he's got to tighten up, but this is a kid who didn't play a whole lot last year, so he's shown some great signs."

Hextall said when he met with Gostisbehere on Saturday, the defensemen understood the demotion.

"He was like, 'Yeah, I know.' He's very in-tune with his game," Hextall said. "He's a smart kid. He knows what he does really well, and he knows things he has to work on."

Hextall said Gostisbehere "has to close quicker on people, and he has great feet, so he can do that. It's just a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition, and getting better at it."

Barring a trade, the Flyers figure to cut three players from the following group: forwards Scott Laughton, Colin McDonald, Chris Porter, and Chris VandeVelde, and defenseman Brandon Manning.

Hextall is apparently is trying to deal Vinny Lecavalier, R.J. Umberger, and Luke Schenn. The general manager said trade talks have been quiet, but he expects them to pick up next week as teams get down to their final cuts and start addressing needs.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

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