Six foot-five inches, two hundred-twenty pounds, the ability to make the big hit, block a shot, lead a rush, and be the quarterback on a power play — Braydon Coburn possess all of those qualities and more.
But what happened to Braydon Coburn during the 2013 season? To be quite blunt, Coburn’s struggles epitomized the Flyers 2013 season.
Coburn came to Philadelphia in 2006, the last time the Flyers missed the playoffs prior to this year, via a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers for defenseman Alexei Zhitnik. He was the crown jewel of new general manager Paul Holmgren’s salary dump and rebuild with young players.
Coburn would quickly establish himself as a young defenseman on the rise, routinely being amongst the leading Flyers in ice time. But seven seasons later, at the age of 28, Coburn’s breakout season was not to be. Instead, he suffered what could only be described as most frustrating for the fans, the team, and more so, himself.
The defenseman was coming off the heels of a strong 2012 season that saw him become a top-4 member of the defensive corps and receive a lucrative contract extension. Coburn was supposed to take the “next step” in the lockout-shortened season, with aging defensive cornerstone Kimmo Timonen taking a step backwards.
Instead, Coburn saw his season cut short with a shoulder injury, limiting him to only 33 games. Furthermore, prior to being lost for the season, Coburn led all players in minor penalties, as he would routinely get caught clutching, grabbing, and holding.
Coburn’s ineffectiveness on defense led to ineffectiveness on offense too, as he registered a Flyers career low in goals (1), assists (4), and points (5).
As noted above, Coburn was rewarded with a four-year contract extension worth 18 million dollars, with a cap hit of $4.5 million per year. Next year, Braydon Coburn will be in the second year of his extension, but will he still be wearing the Orange and the Black?
Although he is expected to be back to anchor an aging Flyers defense, it would not be a surprise to see the Flyers entertain offers for their top-four defenseman who appears to have regressed.
By all accounts, Coburn’s 2013 season could simply be a story of a young player entering his prime and simply trying too hard. But, on the other hand, the Flyers are paying Coburn to be an elite defenseman, something that he has struggled to accept and become.