The biggest new face to the Flyers this offseason, besides coach John Tortorealla, is forward Nic Deslauriers. He is not the big splash that everyone was hoping for. But there is a method to the madness in signing him.
He is not Johnny Gaudreau, Vincent Trocheck, or even Nino Niederreiter. But he was specifically targeted by Flyers management for a reason. Likewise, there is a reason he signed here in Philly.
In an earlier column, when he was first signed, I had talked about the signing. He is not a scoring threat and he never really has been. He has been signed to a four year deal at $1.75 million a season. That’s a long term commitment to a guy who is expected to shore up the bottom line.
Deslauriers has a reputation of being a bruiser. He’s a big guy who can level a hit or throw down the gloves when necessary. While he’s never been charged with being dirty, he is definitely regarded as one of the tougher players in the league. He claims that multiple teams were looking for his services. As such, he has a 20-team trade clause in his contract. Again, that is an unusual commitment for a fourth liner.
However, his toughness is what this team needs. It is no secret that a lot of the Flyers players do not have a lot of NHL experience. Many are young and are still getting their feet wet. Sometimes, that can be intimidating. Imagine being a 21 year old call up facing up against Ryan Reeves, Cal Clutterbuck, Kris Letang, Tom Wilson, or Brad Marchand. That might overwhelm you. Knowing that you have Deslauriers on your side can help out.
When you look at some of the younger players, like Noah Cates, Bobby Brink, Cam York, Ronnie Attard, or Owen Tippett, they will need some protection. Many of these young guys will be on the bottom lines or bottom defensive pairings. Having an older vet like Deslauriers knocking the other team’s bruisers out of the way can give you confidence to chase that puck into the corner or deliver a hit of your own.
And Deslauriers said he wanted to play here. One of the reasons is….us. He is excited about the rabid fan base and how we support the team. He wanted to be part of that.
Deslauriers will probably not score a lot, but I am going to predict a career high of 15 total points. I will also predict for him at least 80 penalty minutes as he works to protect the younger guys around him.
His value will come, not on the stat sheet, but in the confidence he helps with the young players. He is definitely the sort of guy that Torts is going to love. And if he plays out the way the team expects him too, it is possible he becomes one of those gritty fan favorites as well.