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With most of the Flyers lineup set, who’s staying and who’s going?

Oct 2, 2011, 5:09 PM EDT

Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, Henrik Lundqvist AP

When it comes to the Flyers, you already know that guys like Jaromir Jagr, James van Riemsdyk, Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub VoracekWayne Simmonds, and Maxime Talbot are sticking around to start the season. Hell,  the first six of those guys will make up who plays on the top two scoring lines for Philly.

What about the rest, though? Jody Shelley is sitting out to start the season thanks to being Shana-banned, but the competition for other spots on the bottom two lines is tight. With Simmonds and Talbot assuming two of those starting spots in the bottom six, the race to win a job is tight. Guys like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Andreas Nodl, Blair Betts, and Zac Rinaldo are all in the mix.

Coach Peter Laviolette has his work cut out for him but Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi thinks he’s got an inside line on who has the edge to start the year in Philly. Apparently youth will lead the charge in Philadelphia.

Barring a trade, it’s likely two of the following three forwards will make the team: Schenn, Couturier and Matt Read.

This trio is interesting because Schenn has virtually been anointed the third line center job already. Couturier and Read are curious because Couturier will get nine games to show if he’s NHL ready now. If he shows rookie worries and a lack of poise, he can go back to the QMJHL and junior hockey. Read is a college free agent out of Bemidji State in Minnesota. He impressed in his run through the AHL briefly last season and has been doing the same again this year. Conceivably, if Couturier gets sent back to juniors, Read can come back from the AHL to take his spot.

Giving Couturier a shot in the kind of atmosphere surrounding the Flyers with sky high expectations means they think a lot of the kid, even more so if he stays. As for guys like Rinaldo, Betts, and Nodl you’d have to think that Betts will be the fourth line center while Nodl is essentially competing with Read. Rinaldo would be assuming Shelley’s role as an enforcer/agitator if he makes the team.

The Flyers’ forward lines look pretty simple when broken down:

van Riemsdyk – Giroux – Jagr

Hartnell – Briere – Voracek

Talbot – Schenn – Simmonds

Couturier/Rinaldo/Shelley – Betts – Nodl/Read

From this perspective, it would seem unwise to put an 18 year-old rookie on the fourth line where he’s just not going to get a lot of minutes, but then again we’re not coaching the Flyers either. It would be possible that Couturier gets to run on the third line, but having two rookies along with Simmonds would be an awful lot of fun to see work out there.

The choices aren’t going to be easy for Laviolette as he’s got some solid young talent here, but developing them into being better NHL players might take precedence here. Guys like Nodl and Betts are fine as role players and defenders and could be better served doing just that.

  1. jsaq - Oct 2, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    Couturier should go back the the QMJHL. He’s going to be playing a limited role in the NHL right now and he needs time to develop his game further. Read’s been one of the team’s better skaters and should start the season in the top 9. Personally, I’d waive the goon, Shelley, and go JvR-Giroux-Jagr; Hartnell-Briere-Voracek; Read-Schenn-Simmonds; Talbot-Betts-Nodl and keep either Zac Rinaldo or Harry Zolniercyzk as the spare forward.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 2, 2011 at 9:18 PM

      I’m not a fan of Nodl. I’d rather have Rinaldo or Zolniercyzk. That’s my only gripe. Couturier isn’t ready for the NHL. Though I don’t think the Q will help develop his game. He needs better competition. The AHL would be ideal but he is too young (NHL needs to address that rule. He can play in the NHL but not the AHL??). I think the 6th/7th D is more of an issue. Walker has to go. Bartulis should be @ least the 7th D. I’m not big on Lilja but he held his own. Also, Read should start out on the 4th line. He had a good preseason. Let him prove that he can play consistently and move him up. You didn’t bring Talbot here to play on the 4th line. And here’s a question: should Betts be on the bubble? Pumped for this year and hopefully we can have a parade in June ’12.

    • kellyb9 - Oct 3, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      Jagr was a bit of an unknown going into this season, but the way he played so far in preseason, I can’t wait to see that top line take the ice.

    • spiffy53 - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      i hope Read stays. Couturier should also stay. let’s see what he has. we have done the nodl thing. been there done that bought the t-shirt. time to move on. and shelley can barely skate, but if he is waived, with his contract, would there be a lot of savings? not sure.

  2. dcent87 - Oct 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Agreed

  3. ml3939 - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    JSAQ nailed it

  4. BSpeedman - Oct 3, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    I’m curious to find out if any of those three, Schenn/Read/Couturier, have any trade value and if there is a way to package on of them with a draft pick and maybe Bob to a team in hopes of getting a top-six winger. I don’t think Hartnell is deserving of a spot on the second line wing. Unless he does a complete 180 degree turnaround which sees him stop taking stupid penalties (particularly those in the offensive zone) and start planting himself in front of the net more then he does, I don’t think he brings much to the team.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      Hartnell brings something to the table (24G, 49pts in 2010-11). The problem is that he is streaky and shows he lack of discipline one too many times. Hartnell isn’t going anywhere. And the Flyers are already close to the cap. And what team is going to trade a top 6 forward days before the season starts? It’s easy to say who you want to get rid of, but you need to think about the trade partner. With Simmonds here, Harts is under more pressure to perform and play smart. Don’t be surprised that Simmers moves to the 2nd line because Hartnell isn’t playing well. Something to keep your eye on.

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