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September 30, 2015

Laughton, Manning among those battling for Flyers’ final roster spot

Flyers NHL

Chris Porter had an eventful day on Wednesday. Early, he received a phone call from Ron Hextall informing him that he was being placed on waivers. Later on at the Wells Fargo Center, he was one of the orange and black’s best players in a lethargic 4-2 preseason loss (5-2, if you count the mandatory 3-on-3 extra session) to the perpetually boring New Jersey Devils.

Surprisingly, Porter had dealt with the same scenario before in St. Louis. The experience paid off, as the 31-year-old winger parked himself in front of the net and scored on a sweet deflection off a Michael Del Zotto blast from the point.

“Yeah, I guess it’s difficult, strange I guess,” Porter said. “But at the same time, they put you in the lineup for a reason, you want to go out and impress them.”

As Hextall said after the game, there are always tough decisions when a roster is being finalized, even for a team in the Flyers’ position. If the roster limit were 25 players, the final cuts would be easier. In addition to Porter, fellow winger Collin McDonald was also placed on waivers Wednesday (his “wing man,” if you will... put up with some awful puns).

Counting those two cuts, the Flyers’ roster has been whittled down to 24 players, one shy of the limit they’re allotted for opening night. Unless the Flyers are able to move a veteran, the final cut could come down to center Scott Laughton and defenseman Brandon Manning.

Laughton has generally been pretty impressive in camp, but his coach agreed with the former first-round pick’s assessment of his own performance against the Devils: OK, not great.

“I didn’t think he had a lot of energy tonight,” Dave Hakstol said. “I think that, you probably look through our lineup I didn’t think we had a whole lot of energy consistently through our lineup tonight.”

On the other hand, Hakstol thought Manning played a solid game.

“I see confidence in him, you see that he’s been a good two way defender and good two way defenseman,” Hakstol said. “But you are starting to see him pick his spots and get up ice and it looks like he’s a confident player out there.”

The Flyers wanted Manning enough to offer him a one-way contract last April, which means they’re on the hook for the $625,000 he’s owed regardless of where he plays. They clearly like what he brings to the table, but there are only so many roster spots, especially with a few high-priced veterans on the roster with little trade value.

“You can’t make any commitments to anyone there’s no way of knowing what going to happen along the way and obviously when you commit to a one-way you think the guys going to be on your team,” Hextall said. “But again, we have tough decisions to make here so we’ll see.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann