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September 21, 2016

‘Fueling the fire’: Younger Flyers to get extra opportunity thanks to World Cup

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The Flyers will kick off training camp for realzzz on Friday, as the vets join the rookies with one tiny condition that isn’t exclusive to the Orange and Black: a good chunk of the best players won’t be there. Seven Flyers are currently participating in the World Cup of Hockey.

So how is the ol’ tourney shaking out? Well, the United States failed so miserably that the team is getting roasted on Twitter by snubbed players that shouldn’t have been snubbed. The Flyers weren’t represented on the Tortorellas, and each team in the eight-team field has one game left in group play.

Looking at the results and projecting the future schedule, here is generally when you can expect each Flyer to be finished:

Done tomorrow: Jake Voracek and Michal Neuvirth (Czech Republic)

Not done until at earliest September 24 or 25: Mark Streit and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Europe)

Could be done tonight, could be done October 1: Shayne Gostisbehere and Sean Couturier (North America)

Likely gone until September 29 or October 1: Claude Giroux (Canada)

There are other possible outcomes at play here, but those are my best guesses. These absences from training camp likely aren’t a huge deal, as the World Cup players are sharpening their skills in real games against excellent competition. There will be plenty of time for re-acclimating anyway, as the Flyers’ opener isn’t until October 14 in Los Angeles.

“I think for me it fuels the fire, it makes me excited. I know that there’s spots there for the taking and I’m going to do whatever I can to get in one of those spots..."

None of those players are in danger of missing the roster, but their absences could make the battle for the final spots more interesting. At least at the beginning of the preseason, the Flyers coaches and front office will have the chance to get an extended look at some of their younger players.

“Especially as you look at the first four exhibition games, we have the spilt squad and then two others the first three days,” Dave Hakstol said on Tuesday. “Without a doubt I believe there’s more opportunity for guys to get either some game action or possibly some extra action in the preseason that maybe wouldn’t have been afforded to them.”

“Next man up,” in the words of every cliché-friendly NFL coach ever. If Giroux is gone until August, that means the second line center gets bumped up and then so on.

Travis Konecny is one of the players who stands to benefit from this arrangement, which he became aware of as soon as the tournament dates were announced.

“I think everyone started to eye up the preseason, figured out that some of the guys won’t be back,” Konecny said.  “So there’s going to be some spots there and we were told by the coaching staff and management that there’s going to be some opportunity for players so just be ready.”

Does that add any pressure to seize the opportunity?

“I think for me it fuels the fire, it makes me excited,” Konecny said. “I know that there’s spots there for the taking and I’m going to do whatever I can to get in one of those spots and hopefully get a longer look throughout the preseason.”

Now we get to see who takes advantage of it.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann