With the NHL back in action, so too are the several junior and minor hockey leagues in which Philadelphia Flyers prospects play in. Today, we focus on up and coming defensemen in the Flyers system.
Across the pond in Russia, 2012 7th round pick Valeri Vasiliev is holding his own with Spartak Moskva in the KHL. While the 19-year-old defenseman doesn’t supply much on the offensive end of the ice, he plays a physical style of defense Flyers fans can appreciate. In an October 8th win over Donbass, Vasiliev lined himself up with an opposing player and sent him flying end over end. Vasiliev has played 11 games this year, adding one assist and 4 PIM. He missed time in early September with a separated shoulder.
Sean Couturier a Checking forward or big time scorer?
Fresh off his strongest game of the season, Sean Couturier looked to be on the verge of a long-awaited promotion on Friday night. Vincent Lecavalier, the Philadelphia Flyers’ regular second line center, had suffered an undisclosed injury, and Couturier found himself the in-game replacement centering wingers Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
With Lecavalier expected to miss at least a week, it seemed clear that Couturier would be bumped up to the second line, and finally receive an audition with quality offensive talent at even strength.
The next day, the assignments for the following game were released. But Couturier’s name was instead in a familiar spot – third line center.
And yet another opportunity to judge Couturier’s offensive upside was wasted.
Checker or Scorer?
Couturier can play defense, for sure. His shutdown performance in the 2012 playoffs against MVP Evgeni Malkin proved that to the entire NHL. And his dramatically skewed zone start percentages prove that his coaches trust him in the defensive end as well – 41.3% of his total faceoffs in 2012-13 were in the defensive zone, leading all Flyers.