Last time, we looked at some of the guys on the Flyers roster that might be vying for the 12th and final spot within the forward group. With half of the list already complete, it’s time to complete the list and breakdown who might have the upper hand.
Zac Rinaldo: 66 NHL GP, 9 pts, 232 PIM, 22 yrs old, 5-11 / 169 lbs
Rinaldo spent most of his rookie season with the Flyers, accumulating 232 penalty minutes in the process – just 3 shy of the league lead, despite averaging the third fewest time on ice per game amongst those in the top 20.
The spark plug of the team from the fourth line, Rinaldo often found himself in some interesting situations when he was lucky to stay out of the box. But did he push it too far?
The fact is, there are other guys on the roster that would be an upgrade over Rinaldo in many different forms. Looking for a fighter? Tom Sestito would likely be the better choice given his size. More skill? That can be found in several guys around Rinaldo on the depth chart.
The good news for Zac is that he does have the upper hand amongst his equally aged peers having operated under Peter Laviolette and his system in 66 games last season. If he can improve his defensive game and work on his discipline he will be right in the thick of it.
My worry is that cleaning up his act would result in him fading to the background – his lack of discipline has
almost become his staple.
Eric Wellwood: 24 NHL GP, 9 pts, 12 PIM, 22 yrs old, 5-11 / 180 lbs
Wellwood may lack experience, but almost a third of his NHL career has been spent in the playoffs. And not only did he play – he thrived. When the team was flat against an arguably
less talented Devils team, Eric Wellwood was the player who seemed to have legs for the Flyers. He led the team in shots in Game 2 despite being last in ice time amongst forwards, and was second in shots with the second- shortest TOI in a decisive Game 5.
Wellwood’s biggest asset is his speed, though he does seem to lack the ability to parlay it into sustainable offense. With a successful playoffs under his belt, it will be interesting to see if he can gain any confidence from the run. A summer of workouts knowing you held your own against the Eastern Conference champions could be the catalyst to his next potential stage of development – putting the puck in the net.
Harry Zolnierczyk: 37 NHL GP, 6 pts, 35 PIM, 25 yrs old, 5-11 / 175 lbs
There was a time when Harry Zolnierczyk was just an unpronounceable name, making his debut in what would become a trouncing of the Ottawa Senators and a coming out party for Flyers rookies. He, along with Sean Couturier and Matt Read, looked like the potential long-term future of the Flyers.
Unfortunately, the Flyers and Harry Z were unable to sustain a 7-2 score-a-game pace and he came back to Earth. His regular season came to an end in February as the Flyers began to get healthy. He’s in the mix because of his speed and competitiveness, but those are his only ‘sexy’ assets; like the similarly sized and skilled Rinaldo, he has his work cut out for him.
So who gets the spot?
In the end, I think the battle is between Wellwood and Sestito for the final roster spot, depending on which direction the coaching staff wants to go. They bring completely different skill-sets to the table, but when effective both could be very useful role players when the players finally take the ice.
Who do you think will be filling out the bottom of the Flyers roster when the season gets underway?