Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's Look At Some #FutureFlyers

As we all know, the World Juniors are underway and the Flyers are well-represented on the teams from Canada, Russia, and Sweden. Presently, Sweden and Canada are atop Group A and Russia is atop Group B - and the Flyers' prospects have contributed across the board.

Defensemen Travis Sanheim (Canada) and Ivan Provorov (Russia) have lived up to expectations, showing offensive ability from the blue line. Forward Travis Konecny (Canada) and Goalie Felix Sandstrom (Sweden) have been frustratingly limited. Forwards Oscar Lindblom (Sweden) and Radel Fazleev (Russia) have been productive, though that's far from a surprise for Lindblom's followers.

Couple the guys at the WJC with the prospects in the AHL and the future, as always, is bright for the orange and black.

My #FlyersBoner is raging, and I want to look forward. It might be next year, or maybe the following year or even the year after that, but we will have a new batch of talented players to add to our current core. Let's look ahead at the forwards:

The Giroux Line: Konecny - Giroux - Schenn

I like Giroux and Schenn together, if for no other reason than it elevated Brayden's game. They are solid in the defensive zone and, at times, are explosive in the offensive zone. Konecny will help in both situations, as well as in the neutral zone.

I already have visions of Konecny dancing through the neutral zone, swinging behind the net, and having Giroux and Schenn set up at the faceoff circles wound up for one-timers.

The Coots Line: Read - Couturier - Voracek

I don't have much to add here, other than I like Read with this line more than Simmonds. Obviously, the line has succeeded with Simmer on the wing, but we have to look at the opportunity cost. Sending Read down to a line that stinks is a complete and utter waste of his talent. Simmonds, on the other hand, will fit in nicely with...

The Checking Line: Simmonds - Bellemare - Raffl

Let's throw Pierre Bellemare a bone and give him two forwards that can drive possession in the offensive zone, while also complementing his physical game. This is a big, bruising line that also has quite a bit of offensive ability.

Boom, that's three lines that can all play in both ends, and it leaves us with the following group of guys to fill in for injuries/rest, or to make a fourth line:

Chris Vandevelde - High energy, great penalty killer. There will always be a place for him.
Ryan White - Maybe I was a little overzealous by suggesting he should play on Giroux's line all the time, but I love Ryan White's game.
Scott Laughton - Get ready for five years of "Is this the year for Scott Laughton?" now that Coots is a solid Yes.
RJ Umberger (unless he gets bought out) - But please get him the fuck off the team to make some room.
Oscar Lindblom - He shows flashes of a Raffl-type player, best exemplified by his goal this morning (see below).
Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev - Philly's other two junior forward prospects
Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Petr Straka - Too old for juniors, not quite good enough for the Flyers
Danick Martel, Aaron Palushaj, Tyrell Goulbourne - The next step down in the Phantoms lineup

Ideally, I'd like to ice a fourth line of Laughton centering White and Vandevelde, although I know that would be horrible for Scotty's career development.

But, hear me out. That leaves a top six in Lehigh Valley of Cousins-Straka-Leier (the top three scoring forwards) and Lindblom-Fazleev-Aube-Kubel (their three prospects that are currently not in the USA). Throw in some more seasoning on Martel-Palushaj-Goulbourne and we should be able to create a trio good enough to play 8 minutes per game for the Flyers, while also leaving the Phantoms competitive in the AHL.

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