How Will Alain Vigneault, Flyers Fill Out 2019-20 Roster for Season Opener?

VOORHEES, N.J. - The Flyers' process for Prague intensified Tuesday with cuts.

On Wednesday, it picked up with the team's final practice before it flies out to Switzerland. The Flyers play one more preseason game in the United States, which comes Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.

Let's get into five observations on the current state of the team:

1. Dirty does it

One of Joel Farabee's biggest strengths to his push for the Flyers at 19 years old is how he doesn't pigeonhole the team with his potential in the lineup.

He can complement your best talent and he can slide into your bottom six. He possesses a well-rounded makeup, a key reason to why he's one of the final 27 players in the picture for the season-opening lineup (see story).

Possibly his most important game yet will be Thursday. He's slotted to play on the Flyers' second power play unit and with Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl on the third line. Suiting up alongside two of the Flyers' better bottom-six guys is an opportunity to show he can help in that role. After all, that's where the Flyers have needed help ever since free agency passed in July.

"I think he's skilled enough to play in any role," Laughton said. "He can play on the second PP, what he was on today. He can play kind of a grinding role where he's in on the forecheck and picking up dirty minutes. He's going to become a real good pro hockey player and this is just the start, so it's exciting."

This will be Raffl's second game with Farabee. The 30-year-old likes the teenage prospect.

"Really skilled, talented player," Raffl said. "Very easy to play with him.

"If you watch him, you know he's a smart player. He plays the game the right way."

2. Carsen's chip

Carsen Twarynski has earned everyone's attention, so much so that he may be the front-runner among the hopefuls for the season-opening roster (see stock watch).

He has goals in back-to-back games and a solid performance Thursday could make the Flyers' decision.

In the 2018 camp, Twarynski lasted much longer than anyone expected before being sent to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He then started slowly with the Phantoms.

Twarynski learned from the whole process.

"Last year, I was kind of going back and forth between things I did," he said. "A couple games ago, 'Oh, OK, I didn't do this, why didn't I do that?' This year, I go out every shift, I've got my mindset and I've got to go out and do it. There's no holding back. You hold back, that's when things fall apart. It's got to be consistent and focused."

As the Flyers' prospect pool has grown, Twarynski has gone unnoticed at times. He understands why and doesn't care. Philly could grow to like this kid.

"That's kind of been my life story," Twarynski said. "When I've been in Philadelphia, I haven't gotten a lot of social media attention or a lot of praise from outside, but the only thing that matters is the management. I know what they're looking for, I know what I can bring to them, I've just got to show that and they're going to see it."

3. 'He's not a shoo-in'

Philippe Myers, a promising 22-year-old prospect who was primed for a full-time role entering camp, is in a real fight to see the ice.

Robert Hagg will be paired with Matt Niskanen in Thursday's game, while Myers will play alongside Samuel Morin - which may be a sign of the current blue line hierarchy.

Among Hagg, Myers and Morin, two of the three will be extras (if the team decides to carry eight defensemen).

"Right now, the way Myers has played, he's not a shoo-in," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think he can play better than he has, I think he's been a little bit nervous, wants to do a little bit too much on the ice. 

"We're spending a lot of time with him off the ice, showing him different clips, different areas where he can be a little bit more high percentage. At the end of the day, he's played 21 games. He's a young player, he's going to learn, he's going to get better."

4. Head of the class

Remember when Vigneault said he was "very disappointed" with Travis Konecny and the 22-year-old's absence from the opening weekend of training camp?

That seems like forever ago.

Konecny on Thursday will play with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, which very well could be the Flyers' first line for the Oct. 4 season opener.

"I've liked the way T.K. has come in," Vigneault said. "I really liked his energy, he came into camp in real good shape. Yes, he was behind by three days, but he's caught those three days up - video-wise, system-wise."

The Flyers want to be smarter with the puck in 2019-20 to improve their goal prevention. They also want Konecny to make plays and score goals.

"What I see is a young man that has got a lot of energy, wants to learn how to play the right way," Vigneault said. "It's not just about offense, he wants to defend and he wants to defend well.

"Defensively, I think he understands where he's suppose to be when he doesn't have the puck. Some of Travis' issues that I've heard of - not really that I've seen because he's only played a couple of games - is more decisions with the puck.

"A skilled player like that has got to be allowed to try different things, but there are times in a game where your decisions with the puck permit you to continue and go on the attack. The wrong decisions make the other team attack."

5. Center of attention

The Nolan Patrick situation remains cloudy.

The 2017 second overall draft pick hasn't practiced because of an upper-body injury. Vigneault said he wasn't 100 percent sure but doesn't believe Patrick will fly with the team to Europe, meaning the 21-year-old center would miss the season opener.

The injury makes prospect Connor Bunnaman that more important.

He's a 6-foot-3, 226-pound center that scored 19 goals with the Phantoms last season. Vigneault has done his homework on Bunnaman and the 21-year-old hasn't disappointed.

"Didn't know a lot about him but I had heard about him from our staff and our scouts; I had talked to Scott Gordon about him," Vigneault said. "Big body, sort of took off last year when they played him in the middle. Got close to 20 goals in the American League, which is pretty good. Came to camp in great shape, has skated extremely well - extremely well. He's really impressed us. Right off the hop, he got our attention."

The Flyers do have options at center as Giroux and Raffl can play the middle if the team needs them to early on without Patrick.

Bunnaman can change that, though.

"Right now, because Nolan is not here, there might be a spot in the middle," Vigneault said. "There might be a spot on the wing, there's definitely a spot on D."

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