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2013 Flyers Preview: Defensemen

The Philadelphia Flyers will have quite the balance of experience and youth on their blue line this season. 

With players ranging from 23 years-old all the way to 38, the mix of veteran prowess and future promise hopes to be the perfect combination for a turnaround season. 

One of the more controversial contracts this year is that of 38-year-old Kimmo Timonen

Timonen’s one-year, $6 million deal can easily be considered a mistake when given to someone his age, but what Timonen brings to the table every season is irreplaceable. While his game may not be the same as it was three years ago, he can still be argued as the best defenseman in Philadelphia. 

His mix of grinding hard work and offensive support are nothing to take for granted, and his leadership skills and impact on younger players make his role branch much further than that of many defensemen. 

Last season was a struggle for Braydon Coburn. His struggles even led him to be part of many different trade rumors this summer. 

Coburn may have simply been a victim to the sloppiness of the shortened season. His numbers were not impressive, and he often did not look like the same player on the ice. 

His play ever since joining the Flyers in 2007 has consistently been impressive, making it hard to be worried. Expect to see Coburn in a new pairing which should certainly spark a bounce-back season. 

Luke Schenn was the brightest point of the defensive depth chart in Philadelphia last season, and could be again this season. 

He is still young at the age of 23, but proved he can be a top four defenseman in the NHL. He only has room to grow and improve. Look for him to look even better this season and possibly still learning from Timonen and a mentoring Chris Pronger. 

Mark Streit is a looming question mark for many Flyers fans. Signing any player to a 35+ contract tends to be cringe worthy, especially in this city. 

But looking at the big picture, Streit is not your typical 38-year-old NHL player. He has not been in the league very long, so his situation is a bit different. 

Fans have a right to be concerned, but right now the signing doesn’t seem so bad. He balances things out and has the talent to be in one of the top two defensive pairings. 

Andrej Meszaros and Nicklas Grossmann look to be the bottom pairing for the Flyers this season. 

All fingers are crossed for a healthy season for Meszaros. He may be thought of as inconsistent, but his plague of injuries has made it hard for him to have another year like his first one in Philadelphia. When healthy, he can be a fantastic offensive defenseman. Nicklas 

Grossmann, on the other hand, is gritty and nasty against the opposition. The two of them together could be a beautiful duo to watch. They may just complement each other perfectly.  

On the outside looking in are Bruno Gervais and Erik Gustafsson

While Gervais may not be the most popular Flyer, he plays his role perfectly. Going unnoticed is perfect for a 6th defenseman, and that is what he does. He will be there waiting in the wings to step in when any injury or lineup change occurs. 

Gustafsson, however, is extremely well-liked in Philadelphia. He is still very young so he comes with a lot of promise. 

Unfortunately, the depth on this team is going to make it very hard for Gustafsson to have a huge impact this season as the team stands right now. 

Another notable mention is veteran free agent Hal Gill

There are many rumblings of Gill, who is playing on a Player Try-Out, sticking around. If that is the case it would certainly change a lot too, so we shall see how it progresses. 

The depth really does go on and on. We will probably even see guys like Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen, and Matt Konan in the mix. 

There are so many players of so many different ages with various experience levels. Anything could happen with this lineup of guys from now until opening night.


Follow Alicia Sprenkle (@Activestick_44) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter.

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