Flyers general manager Ron Hextall revealed some good news Monday: Steady defenseman Andrew MacDonald's lower-body injury isn't as bad as first feared.
"I haven't been cleared for contact yet, but it's responding well, and the goal is to get in there for the start of the season," MacDonald said. "We'll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks."
MacDonald originally was expected to miss the first two weeks of the regular season. Now, playing in the Oct. 4 opener in Vegas is possible, and if he's not available for that game, he could be ready for the Oct. 9 home opener against loaded San Jose.
"It feels pretty good skating. I think they're more concerned about getting hit at this point," MacDonald said. "After the next appointment with the doc, we'll see when I get the clearance for contact."
MacDonald, who had six goals, 21 points, 131 blocked shots (second on the team), and a plus-8 rating in 66 games last season, would like to play in a preseason game. The Flyers' preseason schedule ends Sept. 29 in Boston.
"It would be ideal to get in an exhibition game. I don't think it's necessary, per se, but it would kind of shake the rust off a little bit," he said. "I'm hopeful I may get in the last one or so, but we'll have to wait and see how it responds."
"This is the time of year you hate to have a guy like that out because he's so important everywhere in the building, as well as on the ice," coach Dave Hakstol said Tuesday. "… Mentally, it's a little bit easier for a veteran to make up time, but individually I think it's critical for him to be on the ice as soon as possible. It's important to have him in our dressing room. He's one of our captains and one of our leaders."
MacDonald, 32, is excited about the Flyers season.
"We have a pretty good balance of veteran guys and young guys filling roles and playing well," he said. "And James [van Riemsdyk] brings a great presence for us – that net front, and he can shoot and is a real smart player. That's a big addition to our team, and we want to build on last year. We don't want to be satisfied with having a good regular season and a real strong finish. It's time for us to keep moving forward and keep taking steps."
Center Morgan Frost and left winger Isaac Ratcliffe were sent back to their respective OHL junior teams. Both played in one exhibition game.
Frost, who excelled in rookie camp and in the rookie game but struggled in his one NHL exhibition, will go to Sault Ste. Marie, and Ratcliffe to Guelph.
The Flyers have 52 players left in training camp.
The Flyers (1-1) will use a young, Phantoms-heavy lineup in Tuesday's preseason game in Brooklyn against the Islanders (7 p.m.). It's the third straight game in as many days/nights against the Isles (1-1).
Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, which will include starting goalie Alex Lyon, who will divide duties with Anthony Stolarz: