Now that games have officially been cancelled, it’s no longer possible to think of the Flyers roster as a whole. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room to speculate how the time away from the Wells Fargo Center will affect each individual piece of it. So who stands to benefit the most and the least from the lockout on the Flyers roster?
A package deal based on their status amongst the Flyers forwards as baby-faced rookies, these two budding forwards actually might be able to gain a lot from their time in the American Hockey League.
In the case of Brayden Schenn, one need not look farther than his points-per-game average in the AHL, which stands at well over 1.0 — albeit over the small sample size of 14 games. If he can manage to stay healthy, the AHL should give him a great opportunity to build his confidence and his legs if the season were to get started in a couple of months. Having never been able to establish himself in the National Hockey League lineup due to injury, a healthy start to the season could re-ignite his rookie career.
As for Sean Couturier, coming off a successful season as a shutdown center, a stint in the AHL allows him a ‘season’ to grow while still playing against guys that are NHL sized. He was able to end the season on a high note defensively, but he was never really put in an offensive role. Thus, his ice time was ultimately limited overall.
The AHL presents him with the opportunity to find his rhythm on the offensive side of the ice, while also building on his successful defensive positioning from the NHL season before. With all the ice time his legs will be able to handle, Couturier should find himself in many key roles for the Phantoms on both sides of the puck.
In addition to the playing time, both players can still maintain a close relationship with the organization. They stand a lot to gain from their temporary arrangement.
Unfortunately for Giroux-sus Christ, I don’t think this extended offseason presents the best opportunity for his continued super-stardom following his coming out party last season. Though I will say straight off the bat that competitively, there is no reason to doubt he can continue his reign, coming off such a high professionally with all he achieved while also recovering from dual wrist surgery with no real season to look forward to presents me with cause for concern.
It would be tough for any human being to not be satiated with all they’ve achieved if they were in the (surely stylish) shoes of #28 himself after this past season. Having no real NHL season to look forward too following his relatively weak exit to an otherwise stellar postseason, it might be hard for a player of his stature to truly get up and play against inferior competition. His skill is undeniable, but will this tumultuous off-season mess with his game? Only time can tell.
The same concerns I have for Giroux ring true for Philadelphia’s most polarizing goaltending duo — particularly its lightning rod Ilya Bryzgalov — but for a host of opposite reasons.
Coming off a relatively strong postseason (please put your numbers aside), but ultimately unsuccessful premiere campaign with the Orange and Black, Bryz could have used some stability. Instead, he finds himself on the other side of the world, though oddly enough at home.
Rather than practicing with the team and building a new legacy with the Flyers, he’s making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. Unlike most big time free agents who can take the first off-season after a big deal to re-focus and get back to what got them there, Bryz will be spending his time focusing on switching to and from rink sizes before eventually having to face harsh reality of a Flyers goaltender who’s lost the faith of the fans.
Maybe being on his home soil will help, but I just can’t see the NHL season starting off well for Bryzgalov, regardless of when that may be.
find me on twitter!