With a winger on waivers, Flyers' season-opening roster, lineup take more shape


VOORHEES, N.J. — Final decisions are just about here for the Flyers.

The club's 2022-23 season-opening makeup came closer into focus Sunday ahead of Monday's 5 p.m. ET deadline to submit a roster.

Following practice, the Flyers placed forwards Zack MacEwen and Cooper Marody on waivers. If the two clear waivers Monday afternoon, they'll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

After being claimed off waivers last October, MacEwen became a regular on the Flyers' fourth line last season. He played a career-high 75 games, recording three goals, six assists and a minus-15 rating in 9:40 minutes per game. His 12 fights led the team and his 159 hits were second most on the club.

But the Flyers went 25-46-11 last season and a fourth-liner's role is hardly ever sacrosanct. The Flyers have a new head coach and two new assistant coaches this season. They also signed hard-nosed winger Nicolas Deslauriers, who plays a similar role to MacEwen.

MacEwen's spot appeared in peril when he was not among the big club group on Sept. 30 as the Flyers zeroed in on system work.

"He's played better. I think as the camp's gone on, I think he's played better in the exhibition games," John Tortorella said Sunday, about an hour before the Flyers placed MacEwen on waivers. "I don't know, I don't know where he fits."

Hayden Hodgson was the winger to edge out MacEwen. Both are 26 years old and they're alike in size. Hodgson's cap hit is $125,000 cheaper and his deal features one more year of team control compared to MacEwen's one-year, $925,000 contract he inked in early August.

Hodgson turned heads in his NHL debut last March. He put up a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating in the Flyers' 5-2 road win over the Blues. He then re-signed on a two-year, $1.6 million contract in late August.

"I've heard a lot about him," Tortorella said. "He's had an OK camp. I'm not going to base everything on a camp.

"He's a big body, he's a willing guy. He's certainly someone a lot of people in the organization think very highly of.

"I need to see more of him. He didn't have a camp like [Noah] Cates, kind of a different player, but I didn't notice him as much. That may work itself out. After tomorrow's practice, those are the decisions we have to make."

Among all of the Flyers' roster hopefuls, Cates was one of the best. The organization has loved the development of the 2017 fifth-round pick. He's ready to help the Flyers now and Tortorella is ready to trust him at center.

"The thing with him, it's not so much playing a couple of positions, he's a pretty smart player, too," Tortorella said. "So you can bounce him around all the lines, right on up through the lineup. I'm going to have him at center because we're in need of a center, especially with [Sean Couturier] out.

"You can see how cerebral he is about the game."

More: Couturier takes 'a step in the right direction' with back injury

Cates signed his entry-level deal in March after a four-year collegiate career at Minnesota Duluth. He had a strong 16-game audition with the Flyers at the end of last season (five goals, four assists).

"My goal is to be an NHL regular as quickly as I can," Cates said Sunday. "If you make the team Monday, you've got to make it Tuesday, you've got to make it Wednesday, you've got to make it every day of the year. Because things can happen, you can move up and down, you've got to make that team every day, you've got to earn it every day.

"I think with the new coaching staff, that's kind of that standard where you can't rest on your laurels or anything like that. Whether you have a good game or a bad game, you've got to come even hungrier the next day."

Here's how the Flyers looked in practice Sunday. They open the regular season Thursday night against the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.


Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Wade Allison

Joel Farabee-Noah Cates-Owen Tippett

Nicolas Deslauriers-Tanner Laczynski-Hayden Hodgson

Cooper Marody-Jackson Cates-Zack MacEwen (extra line)


Tony DeAngelo-Ivan Provorov

Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen

Nick Seeler-Justin Braun

Egor Zamula-Ronnie Attard (extra pair)

Cam Atkinson (upper body) did not play in any of the Flyers' six preseason games. However, he was able to practice throughout the majority of training camp and had recently been rehab skating.

Tortorella said he's confident Atkinson will be ready for the opener.

"We'll probably go with the same group tomorrow and then after the group, we'll see where it all is," Tortorella said of the Flyers' final decisions. "We'll have more information on Cam; all that stuff comes into play."

More: Farabee takes notable step; Tortorella says putting D-man on waivers a 'tough one'

With matters in net, Felix Sandstrom (lower body) returned to practice. He had been rehab skating after suffering his injury during the Flyers' 4-0 preseason loss to the Bruins a little over a week ago.

During that exhibition game, Sandstrom said there were a couple of sequences in which he had to reach too far and "it wasn't feeling good."

He felt good Sunday in practice. If healthy, the 25-year-old will be Carter Hart's backup.

"Usually in a rehab skate, you do everything in control," he said. "[In practice], guys are coming down, shooting and passing in different ways, you have to make reads and all that. It's different, you have to be more exposed maybe. That's a fine step to see how the body handles that.

"Today was a good day."

More: Up, down, up, down — Hart goes through 'hard-paced' test, feels 'on track'

The Flyers' roster is at 30, including injured players. It must be down to a max of 23 when it's submitted Monday.

Here's a current breakdown:

Forwards (14)

Wade Allison

Cam Atkinson

Jackson Cates

Noah Cates

Nicolas Deslauriers

Joel Farabee

Morgan Frost

Kevin Hayes

Hayden Hodgson

Travis Konecny

Tanner Laczynski

Scott Laughton

Owen Tippett

James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen (8)

Ronnie Attard

Justin Braun

Tony DeAngelo

Ivan Provorov

Rasmus Ristolainen

Travis Sanheim

Nick Seeler

Egor Zamula

Goalies (3)

Samuel Ersson

Carter Hart

Felix Sandstrom

Injured players (5)

Artem Anisimov

Bobby Brink

Patrick Brown

Sean Couturier

Ryan Ellis

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