Bartulis realizes crowded Flyers defensive corps isn't to his advantage

Posted: September 17, 2010

Oskars Bartulis knows he has his work cut out for him in training camp if he wants to be on the Flyers' Opening Night roster in Pittsburgh on Oct. 7.

With the additions of Andrej Meszaros, Sean O'Donnell and Matt Walker to an already stacked blue line, the 23-year-old could be the odd-man out. It's unlikely the Flyers can afford to carry eight defensemen on the active roster with a salary cap - especially with a veteran like Bill Guerin on a tryout contract at forward.

Walker and O'Donnell will battle for the sixth and seventh spots, with the upper hand going to O'Donnell even though he will earn $700,000 less than Walker.

Walker was acquired from Tampa Bay with a fourth-round pick in exchange for Simon Gagne. O'Donnell, 39, was signed as a free agent on July 1.

"Of course there are more 'D' than last year, but there is nothing you can do about it," Bartulis said. "I came earlier than I did last summer and I had some pretty good workouts. I can't think about it, I need to just be ready for camp."

Contrary to reports, Bartulis is not waiver exempt and would need to clear waivers if he were to be sent to AHL Adirondack at the end of camp, general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed.

Just 10 days after his NHL debut last season, Bartulis was impetuously signed to a 3-year one-way contract worth a total of $1.8 million. Bartulis was a healthy scratch for 16 of the Flyers' 23 playoff games last year, including the entire second and third rounds. He played in five games of the Stanley Cup finals after Lukas Krajicek struggled in Game 1.

That experience, he said, should help him compete.

"Now that I've played there, I have more experience and especially in the Stanley Cup finals when I played a little bit," Bartulis said. "It builds your confidence. If you're confident, you're going to have a lot easier time in camp." *

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