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With Ristolainen and Drysdale on IR, Flyers Call Up Attard From Phantoms

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers have been very busy over the last few days making roster moves left, right, and centre as they try to overcome the injury bugaboo that has hit at a very inopportune time.

The back-end has taken several hits with Rasmus Ristolainen being placed on IR and expected to be out for longer than his original 2-3 week timeline and then Jamie Drysdale joined him after presumably reinjuring his shoulder against the Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend. He’s labelled as week-to-week and they’re hoping that he can make his return before season’s end.

With 6 able-bodied defensemen remaining, the Flyers officially called up Ronnie Attard from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as insurance and depth.

John Tortorella has utilized the 11/7 formation quite often this year especially when he had the luxury of having Ristolainen and Drysdale healthy alongside everyone else. He went back to status quo on Sunday against Pittsburgh with a 12/6 formation as Olle Lycksell and Nicolas Deslauriers both played while Marc Staal was in the lineup in lieu of Egor Zamula who was made a healthy scratch. With Drysdale exiting the game in the second period and then being ruled out for the foreseeable future, Zamula returned to the lineup on Tuesday against Tampa Bay with the Flyers only holding 6 defensemen.

It remains to be seen whether or not Attard actually gets into the lineup on Friday when they play the Washington Capitals to kick off another back-to-back set. In terms of the personnel up front, Cam Atkinson was made a healthy scratch on Tuesday and we don’t know just yet if he’ll return on Friday, Bobby Brink immediately excelled upon his recall, Lycksell has played very well over the last 2 games, and Sean Couturier – while being placed on the fourth line – will more than likely remain in the lineup.

There might be a logjam with the forwards group with Brink and Lycksell getting ice-time and Atkinson looking to find his way back into the mix. On defense Attard could replace Staal since he has struggled mightily over his last few games, especially against Pittsburgh.

Th 25-year-old Attard has made great strides since being overlooked in back to back drafts, steadily improving on a year-to-year basis. The Flyers selected him in the third round during the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and after committing to Western Michigan University, he improved from 14 points in 2019-20 to 22 the following season to 36 in his final year of eligibility in 2021-22. He signed his ELC with the Flyers and played in the final 15 games of the season, scoring 2 goals and 4 points while averaging 16:36 ATOI.

He started the 2022-23 season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as he entered training camp with an outside shot of making the big club. Nevertheless, that didn’t trump him as he scored 12 goals and 32 points in 68 games for the Phantoms in his first season of professional hockey. Due to the playoff push, they decided not to make any rash call-ups so Attard only suited up twice for the Flyers at the end of the season.

This year, with the overcrowded back-end and mixed with an ordinary training camp forced, he was forced out of the picture as he started with the Phantoms once again. Emil Andrae and Egor Zamula made the club outright out of training camp with the former being demoted after a short 4-game stint. Currently Attard has 10 goals and 25 points in 46 games for the Phantoms and this recent call-up presents him with a golden opportunity to showcase his abilities on a grand scale.

With Ristolainen and Drysdale not returning any time soon, Tortorella having a short leash on Zamula and Staal, and Sean Walker and Nick Seeler being potential trade deadline bait, Attard will have plenty of opportunities to get some meaningful game-time and this can act as an early audition for the 2024-25 season.

Fellow Phantoms defenseman, Emil Andrae, is also a candidate to be called up in the not-so-distant future – especially if Walker and/or Seeler are moved – as the silky smooth Swede has racked up 27 points in 40 games in his first full season in the AHL. The future is bright and with the Flyers still in the playoff picture, players like Attard will be able to do their part to help the cause.

A few of the other roster moves that were made in the last several days include the recalls of Lycksell and Brink, Cal Petersen being placed on waivers, and Felix Sandström being brought back into the fold as the de-facto backup goaltender. Mum’s the word on Travis Konecny as well, who is dealing with an upper-body injury and has missed the last 3 games.

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