Cole Bardreau

2017 Flyers training camp: 5 sleepers to watch

2017 Flyers training camp: 5 sleepers to watch

Flyers hockey is back … well, sort of.

The rookie game and media day gave way to the official commencement of 2017 Flyers training camp on Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Which means roster spots and jobs are to be won from now until the season opener Oct. 4 in San Jose, California.

Prior to opening night, the Flyers must submit a roster of no more than 23 players. We know a lot of the obvious candidates in line for openings.

However, let's take a look at five sleepers:

1. Taylor Leier, No. 58
Somewhat of a forgotten man in the Flyers' growing forwards competition, Leier was an AHL All-Star last season after a career-high 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 71 games the year prior with Lehigh Valley. He now has 16 NHL games under his belt and even saw a brief stint on the Flyers' top line in 2016-17, when he appeared in 10 games. The 2012 fourth-round pick is only 23 years old and re-signed on a one-year deal in the offseason. He'll be a winger option for the Flyers when camp breaks and throughout the season.

2. Travis Sanheim, No. 57
Not an unknown as he's arguably the Flyers' top defensive prospect, but Sanheim appears destined to start the 2017-18 season with the Phantoms. There looks to be two slots open on the Flyers' blue line and the early favorites to fill them are Sam Morin and Robert Hagg, both of whom made their NHL debuts last April. The two have a combined five years of AHL experience, while Sanheim is coming off his first season in Lehigh Valley. Still, the 21-year-old is not far off and should give both a legit run for their money. "I'm coming to camp to make the team," Sanheim confidently said in July.

3. Ivan Kosorenkov, No. 89
Obviously, Kosorenkov is not making the big club in camp, but he is fighting for an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent. The 19-year-old Russian winger earned a training camp invite (the Flyers' only one) after opening eyes at development camp with his quick skates and hands. He also played well in the rookie game. The more you see him, the more you wonder how he went undrafted this summer. The Flyers obviously want to see more of him. This isn't quite a Phil Myers situation, but it's similar in the sense that the Flyers are hoping they have something here in another undrafted FA.

4. Cole Bardreau, No. 42
The injury-stricken Bardreau will not be lacking any motivation. He missed training camp last year because of abdominal surgery and also suffered a litany of injuries while at Cornell, including cervical fractures in his neck. The 24-year-old forward owns four years of college experience and two at the AHL level. He'll have his work cut out for him in training camp against the likes of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom and Mike Vecchione, among others, but he'll be in the running now healthy.

5. Scott Laughton, No. 21
How can a 2012 first-round pick be a sleeper? Considering many thought Laughton could have been in Vegas at this time of the year, the 23-year-old is in a real prove-it point of his career with the Flyers. The organization somewhat surprisingly protected him in the June expansion draft and now he's just fighting for a roster spot among a busy group of forwards. Despite Laughton's playing only two games with the Flyers last season, general manager Ron Hextall was pleased with the prospect's progress at Lehigh Valley. "Scotty had a terrific year," Hextall said in July. "He improved a lot, his focus and his professionalism. Quite honestly, I think Scotty really grew up last year. So Scott is certainly going to be given an opportunity to make the hockey club."

Flyers re-sign RFAs Alex Lyon, Anthony Stolarz and Cole Bardreau

Flyers re-sign RFAs Alex Lyon, Anthony Stolarz and Cole Bardreau

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall's summer shopping may finally be over.

The Flyers on Saturday night re-signed goalies Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz to one-year contracts and forward Cole Bardreau to a two-year contract. All three are two-way deals.

Lyon and Stolarz will return to Lehigh Valley, where the two will again partner up in net for the Phantoms. The duo helped the Phantoms finish 2016-17 with 101 points.

In his first professional season, Lyon, 24, posted a 27-14-0 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with the Phantoms. The Flyers signed him as an NCAA free agent out of Yale University on April 5, 2016.

Stolarz had an up-and-down campaign last season with the Phantoms, his third year in the AHL. He had a 2.92 GAA and .911 save percentage in 29 games. He had a cup of coffee with the Flyers in November and December when Michal Neuvirth dealt with a lower-body injury. The 23-year-old goalie made his NHL debut on Nov. 27 against Calgary in a 5-3 win.

Overall, Stolarz, 23, was 2-1-1 with a 2.07 GAA and .928 save percentage in seven games with the Flyers.

Despite showing promise in his limited action, Stolarz didn't earn the trust of Hextall, who repeatedly has said he wasn't comfortable handing Stolarz the backup job.

Thus, Hextall signed Brian Elliott to a two-year contract on July 1. With Elliott and  Neuvirth under control for the two years, the Flyers are committing to a stopgap tandem.

"Anthony Stolarz has improved every year in the American League," Hextall said earlier this month. "With Neuvy's track record of injuries, we just didn’t feel comfortable with bringing Stolie in at this time. The guy we all forget about is Alex Lyon. He's done a pretty good job down there, too. Those two guys will go back down there and battle it out.

"We'll see where it goes, but they're two very good young goalies. We'll see how it goes this year with them and make adjustments as we go along."

What makes their extensions interesting is the term. With both on one-year contracts, it's safe to say the Flyers are pitting Lyon and Stolarz against each other once again in a competition at the AHL level.

The winner may get another contract and the other let go. It's a fascinating problem the Flyers have here in net, one that is a problem but one they should love to have.

Goalie prospects Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom are still a few years away from NHL consideration. Hart, 18, and will spend one more year in the WHL before turning pro. Sandstrom decided to re-sign for one more year in Sweden. He said at last week's development camp that he needed one more season before coming overseas (see story).

Should Sandstrom come over for the 2018-19 season, when Lyon and Stolarz's contracts are up, the crease in Lehigh Valley could be crowded with Hart expected to be there too.

Despite having Elliott and Neuvirth under control for 2018-19, the Flyers could foresee either Lyon or Stolarz being NHL ready that year and move either Elliott or Neuvirth.

This is all projection. Hextall has positioned himself to have this problem, and it's one the organization hasn't had often. There is a healthy goalie problem brewing.

That should be welcomed.

Flyers extend qualifying offers to 7 restricted free agents

Flyers extend qualifying offers to 7 restricted free agents

As expected, the Flyers made qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents on Monday.

Goalie Anthony Stolarz, center Mike Vecchione, and forwards Roman Lyubimov and Taylor Leier, all of whom saw some duty at the NHL level last season received offers.

So did forwards Cole Bardreau, Scott Laughton and goalie Alex Lyon.

Flyers development camp is expected to open on Sunday, July 9 at Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., which is undergoing extensive upper level renovations which is closed off from the general public.

Camp will be open to the public and admission is free.