The draft has come and gone, most free agents have found their new homes, and now there are just three months until October 8th when the Flyers open their 2014-2015 season in Boston.
However, during these next three months there are some questions that need answers for the orange and black. Here are three.
Will Vinny Lecavalier still be a Flyer?
The word appears to be that in order to move him, the Flyers will have to retain half of his salary. Nashville and Ottawa were the frontrunners for Vinny but the demand was that Philadelphia keeps half of his now-seemingly unworthy contract, something GM Ron Hextall wasn’t willing to do at the time.
Ottawa went out and picked up a cheaper veteran center in David Legwand while Nashville's void has become bigger down the middle with the loss of Mike Fisher for 4-6 months. A large reason why Lecavalier came to Philadelphia in the first place was to play for Peter Laviolette (now Nashville's head coach) who was fired just three games into this past season with Philadelphia. The rumors will continue to swirl.
(Interesting note: Vincent Lecavalier was the 1st overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. David Legwand was the 2nd.)
Who will take Hartnell’s spot on the first line?
When Scott Hartnell was traded to Columbus there was talk of moving Brayden Schenn up to the top line in attempt to give him the necessary boost to become the player he was projected to become when he was drafted at #5 overall by the Kings back in 2009.
HOWEVER, there is also a lot of questioning as to why the Flyers don't just plug in Wayne Simmonds on the top line due to the similar playing style to that of Hartnell's. Hartnell enjoyed great success here in Philadelphia playing on Claude Giroux’s left. Simply enough though, Simmonds is a career long right winger. As is Jakub Voracek, the current first line right wing. Therefore moving Simmonds up would involve one of the two switching sides of the ice and with the experimental transition for Vinny Lecavalier not going so well, I'm not sure Berube wants to mess with the individual success of the younger Simmonds and Voracek.
Will Scott Laughton make the roster?
Scott Laughton is ready to be a Philadelphia Flyer. There is very little doubt about that. The concern with the 2012 1st Round Pick making the team is what role will he play for Berube?
Moving Laughton from center would be an absolute mistake in my mind. Therefore, down the middle (IF Schenn moves up to 1st line LW and Vinny is still a Flyer) it should be Giroux-Lecavalier-Couturier-Laughton? Whether Vinny is still a second line center is highly debatable but it may be a better option than moving one of the best defensive centers in the league in Sean Couturier from his third line role.
Therefore, that leaves the fourth line center spot open for the 20 year old who is coming off an explosive final season (87 points in 54 games) with Oshawa of the OHL. The obvious statement is that Scott Laughton is not a fourth line player. But the team cannot wait until someone takes Lecavalier off of their hands, or his contract runs out, to start letting Laughton blossom as a player.
The other option to having Laughton in Philadelphia would be to have him as a top-six forward in Lehigh Valley, the newly relocated AHL affiliate. During Hextall’s press conference when he was named GM he said, “Tell me one young player who was hurt with time in the AHL. I can tell you hundreds and hundreds that were hurt too soon in the NHL.” While this phrase could apply to multiple prospects, Laughton in Lehigh Valley would mean lots of playing time, something he would not have if he were a fourth line Flyer.
Thanks for reading!