JVR Extended, Couturier to make Roster?
Tuesday, the Philadelphia Flyers inked forward James van Riemsdyk to a six year extension worth $25.5 million with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million. There are two trains of thought on the extension among those who follow the team. The first is that JVR has done little to prove that he should warrant such a contract and the risk of signing the deal doesn’t make sense for someone who would have been a restricted free agent after the season.
The other train of thought is that the Flyers did the right thing by locking down one of the players who they are hoping will be a cornerstone of their franchise. With the deal, they are hedging their bets that the player who they drafted 2nd overall will continue to show the dominance he displayed in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. If he does show that moving forward, $4.25 million may end up being a steal in a couple of years in this elevated contract scale.
Should Couturier Make the Team?
On Monday, Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com planted the seed of possibility that the Flyers’ first round draft pick Sean Couturier could make the roster, and raised some eyebrows in the process. He pointed out that the team could very well possess the same problem that they had faced in the last few years. That problem is having too many centers and having to play people out of their natural position. It became a common occurrence to see Jeff Carter lined up on the wing, despite his ability in the middle of the ice. With their latest roster moves, it seemed that the team would put players in their natural positions and move forward from there.
Now, many are wondering if Couturier would have the ability to make the team out of training camp and if it would be a good decision even if he showed he was capable?
The talent that Couturier possesses is undeniable, and if one were to shoot down the idea of him playing in the NHL this season they couldn’t use talent as a selling point. He can play, and his 7th overall draft position (which was lower than projected) is a pretty good indication of his abilities. A two-way forward who has been compared to Jordan Staal, Couturier has flat-out dominated the ice of the defensively challenged QMJHL for Drummondville.
In his first rookie camp, it was clear to see why Couturier had his way in the Q. His long and lanky frame gave him quite an advantage on the ice, and his hands were silky smooth. Smooth enough that it could be argued that he possessed the best stick-handling skills on the ice in camp. For a camp that included the top prospect outside of the NHL in Brayden Schenn, Couturier did pretty well for himself.
However, despite his impressive skill level, it seemed clear that the young center wasn’t quite ready for the big-time. His 6’4 frame needs a bit more than just 192 lbs on it for him to be able to successfully hold his own in the NHL. While anything is possible during training camp, he would be better suited starting the season in the Q.
At rookie camp, Couturier stated that he had every intention of making the team (what else would he say?).
“My main goal is to make the team,” he said. “I’m going to work hard this summer, so I can be in the best shape I can be coming to camp. I’m just going to give it everything I got and it’s going to be up to the staff to decide.”
The staff should decide to give him more time to develop in order to bypass the same problems that plagued them with van Riemsdyk’s almost immediate start in the NHL. Lack of consistency and a difficult adjustment period thwarted JVR’s obvious talent, and the same could prove true with Couturier. With no explicit reason to have him on the opening day roster, he would be better suited in the Q.