Philadelphia Flyers: Previewing positional training camp battles

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Flyers
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Defense has been a hot topic in the Flyer’s hockey community ever since the retirement of Chris Pronger and the Flyer’s inability to find his replacement. And while it can be fairly difficult to replace the contributions of a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, the defenses that some of the post-Pronger era Flyers teams have assembled have been downright embarrassing at times.

Those days seem like a distant memory now that the Flyers have established number one guys in Shayne Gostisbhere and Ivan Provorov, in addition to the solid stay-at-home style of Robert Hagg.

The Flyers will be looking to add to that this season with players like Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers. Sanheim was up with the big club last season, but his usage was questionable throughout the year, at one point being sent down to the minors by Hextall because he didn’t want one of his best prospects languishing in the press box.

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Samuel Morin, the Flyers’ big hulking defensive prospect, was set to join the club this year in a third pairing role, but an ACL tear has derailed him for now. It’s uncertain what his role will be moving the forward, but the Flyers will likely have to push that decision further down the road while they see how he recovers.

Sanheim will be the Flyers this season and will have a bigger role, most likely that of second pair defensemen. Myers, on the other hand, is more of a question mark. With the injury to Andrew MacDonald, he seems like the logical choice to start the season at the NHL level. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Christian Folin, acquired late in free agency as a depth defensemen, is an interesting case because while he projects to be the seventh guy, this coaching staff has proven to be anything but predictable, especially with their usage and pairings of defenseman. It would make sense for Folin to slot into that seventh spot while Sanheim and Myers both fulfill second and third pair duties.

The injury to MacDonald creates the perfect opportunity for Myers to show the organization that he is ready to step up. The hope was that he would come to camp and push some of the veterans even before the MacDonald injury, so it would appear that the spot is Myers’ to lose, at least to start the year.

Fans are hoping to see the defense take another step this year, and that means Sanheim solidifying his top four role, and Myers making a big contribution early on. MacDonald isn’t going anywhere just yet, so he’s going to be here as long as he’s healthy.

Next. With Andrew MacDonald sidelined, it’s Philippe Myers time to shine. dark

Myers and Sanheim will be fun to watch during camp, as will the continued development of Gostisbhere and Provorov. Fans should expect an improved defensive corps coming into the season.