Flyers Options if Sean Couturier is Out Long Term

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 05: Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on December 5, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 05: Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on December 5, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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I admit it. It’s my fault. Recently, I wrote an article about why the Flyers are giving me optimism. I even quoted the Godfather Part III about being “sucked back in”. I got my hopes up only to wash them get dashed again by the recent news that Sean Couturier could be for an extended period of time; if not the whole season. Immediately my heart sank this morning (which put quite the damper on the Eagles smashing win last night over the Vikings!). Wasn’t he healthy? Didn’t he say he felt good?

After I recovered, I went into “fix it mode”. If Coots is out for months, what can the Flyers do to replace him?

Well, the simple fact is that he can’t be replaced. He’s the best all-around player the Flyers have. So who can fill his spot in the lineup until he can come back?

Flyers Internal Options

Obviously, this means that Kevin Hayes gets immediately promoted to the top line. I hope to God that he is healthy and ready to go. After that, it gets to be slim pickings. Morgan Frost will be moved to the second line. Patrick Brown, who was on the roster bubble probably will remain on the fourth line while Noah Cates could get a shot at the third line. It is also possible that one of the wingers, like Cam Atkinson or Travis Konecny gets shuffled into the center position. What about Owen Tippett? Can he be an effective center? Maybe an AHL call up will have to come up in plug some holes; especially if others go down.

Free Agent Scrap Heap

You read that right. All the good names were taken back in the early parts of summer. Who’s left?

Not much. James Neal is available, but he is primarily a left winger. He also hasn’t scored more than 10 goals in a season in three years.

Former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler is on the market. He’s also 39 years old. But if you are looking for a body to fill room, he might not be a bad candidate. I’m not sure how much he has left in the tank, but it might be worth a call.

At 10 years younger than Kesler, Victor Rask is an option. He scored 21 goals once for the Hurricanes, but that was in 2015-16. He’s lost his scoring touch over the years, but he’s not a bad option if you need someone with veteran experience.

However, the most likely free agent signing would be former Ranger Derek Stepan. Stepan played with Tortorella and knows his system. Torts sung his praises many time during his career in NY and the familiarity there could help a Flyers team in transition.

Any Trade Candidates?

There isn’t any news of anyone demanding a trade yet. But that usually starts after the season begins. Likewise, if we have to trade for a center, who are we giving up? A young prospect? Draft picks? That might not be the answer for us as most teams would know we are desperate.

Likewise, with this team strung thin with the salary cap issue, the Flyers could be in trouble in trying to replace Couturier. Although if he and/or Ryan Ellis are moved to long term injured reserve, that could alleviate problems for a while.

All we can do now is hope for the best that his injury isn’t as serious as they thought it was.