LAS VEGAS — For the first time since he claimed goalie Calvin Pickard off waivers from Toronto on Tuesday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall talked about the reasoning behind the move.

Hextall said the injuries to Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon, plus the fact that Anthony Stolarz "hasn't played essentially in a year," and Brian Elliott is coming off core-muscle and hip surgery made the move necessary.

"It was one of those moves we felt made sense, to give us depth at a position that we're a little banged-up in," Hextall said before the Flyers' practice Wednesday in Las Vegas, where they prepared for Thursday's season opener against the Golden Knights.

Because of possible immigration problems, Pickard may not get to Vegas for Thursday's game. If he doesn't, Stolarz will serve as Brian Elliott's backup.

The Flyers may put Stolarz on waivers later in the week, hoping to send him to the AHL's Phantoms.

Hextall believes the Flyers are in a position to improve on last season's 98-point campaign.

"I feel good at where we're at, but in the end, we have to go out on the ice and get it done," he said. "I feel good about our team. I feel we're going in fairly healthy when you look at some other teams."

The Flyers will face a Vegas team that stunned the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season.

"Tomorrow is going to be tough," Hextall said before Wednesday's practice. The Golden Knights "have a lot of excitement in trying to build on what they did last year. It's a tough building to play in, so we're certainly going to have our hands full."

The Flyers split their two games with the Knights last season, including a 4-1 win in Vegas.

Here were the Flyers' lines and pairings at Wednesday's practice:

  • Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.

  • Nolan Patrick centering Oskar Lindblom and Jake Voracek.

  • Mikhail Vorobyev centering James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds.

  • Jori Lehtera centering Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl.

  • Defense: Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere; Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas; Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg.

  • Goalie: Elliott (Stolarz as the backup).

  • Extras: Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, Christian Folin.

Breakaways

Vorobyev and Lindblom are rookies on the 23-man roster. Hextall on Vorobyev: "To me, it was pretty evident he earned a spot. He wasn't given a spot." … The GM said he saw Weal as more of a top-nine player who can fill in if someone isn't producing or there is an injury. "He can play all three positions, which is good for him," he said. "… He can play a skilled role for our team." … The streamlining of goalie pads "is a step in the right direction" and should increase scoring, said Hextall, who said it was "crazy" to talk about making the nets bigger to help offenses. … Hextall on the team's much- maligned penalty kill: "We need to see improvement, 100 percent." He said Laughton looks better on the PK than he did last season.