This offseason the Flyers were expected, by their fans at least, to make some free agency splashes. That did not happen, or at least as far as fans were concerned. One of the signings the team made was bringing back Justin Braun to man the blueline. What can the 35 year old vet bring to the table at this point? Well, I think we’ve seen it.
Braun is not flashy. He is not speedy. He is not a scoring threat, with his career high in goals being the six he scored last season. He is rarely used on the power play, but can be utilized on the penalty kill. He can deliver hits, but when compared to some of the other guys on the Flyers, he doesn’t dish out as many (87 last year as compared to 230 by Rasmus Ristolainen). He is not reckless and doesn’t usually put the team down a man.
So what does Braun give the Flyers? He gives steady veteran leadership. He knows how to play this game. He is a stay at home defender that will thrive in Coach Tortorella’s system. He is a hard worker who will give it his all. And for a cheap one-year deal at $1 million, that’s not a bad price.
He is not a top line defender anymore and he should not be paired up with Ivan Provorov again. Now granted, this was in large part due to the massive amounts of injuries the team had last year. The Flyers had hoped that Ryan Ellis would be paired up with Provy. When Ellis, and others went down, line changes had to be made. Braun and Provy didn’t work as the two just didn’t sync up well.
Many Flyers fans were upset at bringing him back. To be fair, they really didn’t have many other options at defense. Are the Flyers young guns of Egor Zamula, Cam York, Ronnie Attard, and Nick Seeler ready to handle the load? If not, they could end up struggling like we’ve seen with Provorov and Travis Sanheim.
Braun will be best served on the third pairing with a younger defender, especially if they are more offensively minded. In a pinch, he can be bumped up to second line in case of injuries. Worst comes to worst, he can be a valuable depth trade piece at the deadline.
Braun will fit in with Tortorella’s system. As a result, he can be a big, inexpensive way to fix this Flyers’ defensive corps. And if the defense is strong, Carter Hart can be stellar. This can go a long way into fixing this team’s problems. More importantly, Braun’s leadership can help the young guys out to become a better, stronger part of the Flyers’ future. They can learn from him the same way guys like Claude Giroux learned from a player such as Jaromir Jagr a decade ago.