After the conclusion of the Flyers-Caps rookie game, several determinations come to mind:
1. Sean Couturier is not ready for the NHL
The bottom line is that he needs to add muscle to his advantageous frame. If he can get his weight above 200, maybe even 210, I think we'll see a significant improvement in his battles along the boards and in the corners. There is no doubt that the guy has skill, but he needs come into his body much like JVR has begun to do. Several times Couturier had potential scoring chances against the caps that he couldn't finish due to his limited strength. It is unfortunate that Couturier can't play in the AHL this season, as it's unclear exactly how much more development he'll receive from another season in the QMJHL.
2. Brayden Schenn - The Next Mike Richards
We all know how much Brayden Schenn drew multiple comparisons to former Flyer captain, Mike Richards, even to the point where it became exhausting to hear about. But after finally seeing him play a full game, it's very obvious why he continues to remind many people of the newest addition to "Philadelphia West."
He doesn't have exceptional speed or a bullet of a shot, but his game is significantly well-rounded. His vision, coupled with his good hands and overall playmaking ability, can easily be a game-changer, not to mention his solid defensive game.
So if Schenn ready for the NHL? As ready as he ever will be. The AHL might help him a little, but based on the roster the Flyers have at the moment, it makes the most sense to me to start him on the 3rd line this year, unless he really bombs in training camp/preseason.
3. Jason Akeson is the real deal
When I first heard about this guy, I was excited, not surprisingly due to his OHL totals from the previous two seasons. But then I became skeptical when I took into account his age and playing with the 2nd overall pick from the 2011 draft, Gabriel Landeskog, I wasn't sure how inflated his stats were.
Regardless of that, it was obvious that Akeson has strong vision and Giroux like passing, which he demonstrated effectively on several great scoring chances throughout the rookie game. I'm hoping he ends up playing in the AHL this year, as it would definitely be the next measuring stick for his progress as a player.
4. Blake Kessel is the other real deal
I wasn't sure what to think of the drop off in his point totals at UNH from 2009-2010 to this last season, but based on his play tonight, it's obvious he is solid in his own end and has an offensive upside sorely needed in the Flyers group of defensive prospects. I thought Kessel and Lauridsen played well together tonight and with a little work on decisions with the puck and partner positioning in their own zone, we could see both of them suiting up for the Flyers in a few years.
There was a decent amount of sloppy play from both teams, but in the end, with some stellar play from both Brad Phillips and Michael Houser, they pulled off a win against a Caps rookie team boasting some serious offensive talent.
Seems like a great way to kick off an undeniably thrilling season.