N.B. I apologize in advance for this stream of consciousness post. I need some more time to organize my thoughts on the roster changes and will likely edit this post this afternoon.
This morning, the Flyers announced that Brayden Schenn was recalled and Zac Rinaldo and Harry Zolnierczyk were loaned to the Phantoms. That leaves the Flyers with a glut of centers and some big questions about where everyone fits in the lineup.
Through five games and a 4-0-1 record, the Flyers have been firing on all cylinders. They lead the league in goals per game (3.80) and have given up among the fewest goals per game in the league (2.00). The power play is on fire and every player is chipping in to some capacity.
The only areas where the Flyers have been struggling is on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle.
After making these moves, the Flyers left themselves the thinnest margin of possible cap compliance and too many players to fit in to four lines. Maybe that means Scott Hartnell is actually the pink elephant in the room.
“It bothers me that I’m not getting the minutes that I used to have,” Hartnell said. “It’s frustrating. But I’m still having fun. We’re winning, we’re all playing well and everyone is contributing.”
As Joshua Janet pointed out on Twitter last night, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek are showing some chemistry but Daniel Briere appears to be out of sync with that line.
Briere is a notoriously slow starter and perhaps a reunion with Hartnell, his former linemate, would help both players get going again.
Hartnell could also see fourth line duty in lieu of playing Jody Shelley, where he could be a strong physical presence and an agitator. However, if he’s unhappy with his current minutes, this would only make matters worse.
Trading Hartnell — if he’s unhappy, he’ll be more likely to waive his no trade clause — would provide the team with a ton of cap space, flexibility to make more moves down the road, and allow the offense to naturally take shape.
Whatever the case is, rookies Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and Schenn are all forcing the Flyers’ hand and something needs to happen.
Waiving Matt Walker would do the trick of clearing out enough cap space to make things comfortable. The simple and obvious route is rarely one traveled by the Flyers, though. So, there’s little reason to assume that would actually happen, even though Walker has done little to earn a spot with the Flyers.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see a rookie line of Read – Schenn – Couturier play together. Couturier has struggled in the dot and maybe Schenn could help win more faceoffs.
Maybe this will eventually spell the end of Hartnell or Andreas Nodl’s time in Philadelphia. It’s hard to tell at this point but, once again, I’d like to preach patience. Let’s see how situations play out before making any rash decisions. Whether that will happen or not, though, is anybody’s guess.