The (positive) outlook on defense

You might remember this guy from such roles as Flyers 2013 defenseman

It is unlikely that this offseason will feature more than two big moves on defense for the Flyers.

There will be no Keith Yandle, Alex Pietrangelo or Shea Weber patrolling Philadelphia’s blue line. The Flyers have been interested in Yandle for a few years now and they finally managed to get him.

Well, not him. They go Mark Streit and he’s kind of like Yandle. They both have the same cap hit and both put up nearly the same amount of points in the last two seasons (Streit had 74 points and Yandle had 73). Streit may be older but he cost nothing in terms of prospects or draft picks, making it a wise move for next season — especially considering how durable Streit has been through all but one season of his career.

That was the big addition to the blue line.

The next move will likely be the big subtraction that has been in the works since the draft or perhaps even prior to it. Edmonton wants Braydon Coburn. It is just a question of whether or not they will give up a young winger — likely the asking price (or it should be, anyway) — to get him.

The Flyers need to clear up salary to get under the cap and, given how few viable options the Flyers actually have, Coburn is likely the odd man out.

That’s it? Yeah, that’s it.

As crazy as it may seem, this is not a bad situation for the Flyers.

From an offensive standpoint, Kimmo Timonen and Streit will be able to generate offense. Streit will also help with making that first lead pass and possessing the puck, two areas where the Flyers needed help last season.

Luke Schenn started to come into his own last season and well likely be the biggest minute muncher and punishing bruiser on the back end again.

Beyond this top three are two defensemen who will be battling hard to prove their worth.

Andrej Meszaros, who arguably had the roughest and unluckiest year and a half of any Flyer not named Chris Pronger, is not far removed from being a Barry Ashbee winner and the best defenseman in Philly. Meszaros is in the final year of his contract and the direction of his career might hinge upon his performance this upcoming season. When he returns to action, expect him to be the most motivated defender out there.

Coming off a strong performance for Sweden in the World Championships and a solid end to the 2013 NHL season, Erik Gustafsson, a restricted free agent, will have the opportunity to compete for big minutes and prove his worth as a steady NHL defender.

Plenty of moving parts could round out the top six, including Bruno Gervais who played above expectations, Nicklas Grossmann who is recovering from a concussion but played very well for the Flyers when healthy, and Oliver Lauridsen who surprised everyone with his edgy play and impressive mean streak at the end of last season.

One of the big knocks against Philadelphia is the organization’s lack of patience when it comes to developing defenseman. Leaving spots in the top six for guys like Gustafsson and Lauridsen to earn and lean from their mistakes is a big part of doing this.

If you, like most other fans out there, do not want to give up Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier and want to see the Flyers develop defensemen then the choice seems pretty clear: leave a spot open for a guy like Gustafsson to develop at the NHL level rather than trading away Couturier for Yandle, doesn’t it?

  • wolfsjetta12

    While I don’t like the idea of trading Coburn away, I do like the idea of giving our young d-men an opportunity to develop at the NHL level. Like you said that’s all apart of their development. For a guy like Gus he proved all he needs to at the AHL level, no it’s time for him to show what he has at the highest level.

  • Black FemalePower

    Marcello:

    On a contending team, in order to be able to give young developing Dmen the 5th and 6th spot, the Top 4 have to be very very good/ The Flyers cannot do that IMHO. Timonen is very old and has lost a step, Streit is also no spring chicken and in your analysis you TOTALLY neglected what a defensive liability he is. Schenn and Grossman are one dimensional stay at home heavy hitters. The ONLY bright spot I think is MESZAROS, as you mentioned. This guy has been unlucky with injuries and I really hope to see what exactly he is capable of doing healthy and motivated.
    But realistically, only one spot can be given to a youngster with this defense corps, that being the 6th dman role. Think about it. If COBURN leaves (and he has to for cap reasons), which DMen will be depended on to generate offense. Timonen and Streit. Because of both their ages and also because of Streit’s defensive irresponsibility, BOTH these guys (Streit even more so) will require a solid defensively responsible stay at home type to pair with them and cover up their mistakes. This means Schenn and Grossman, with the more experienced Grossman being relied on to babysit Streit. There’s your TOP FOUR right there:
    Streit-Grossman and Timo-Schenn
    With that Top 4, you CANNOT give your bottom pairing over to youngsters. Youir 5th dman would have to be Meszaros and perhaps a young guy can be paired with him.
    EVEN that cre4ates a problem. If Meszaros really wants to prove himself, will he get enough ice time to do so on the bottom pairing.
    NO easy solutions and NOT a good situation for Flyers defense. Not at all!