Philadelphia Inquirer writer Sam Carchidi wrote a piece designing the projected Flyers’ line combinations for the 2009-10 season. He put Ian Laperriere on the second line wing and Mike Richards centering the third line with Arron Asham and Daniel Carcillo. Being moved by the article, I decided to take it upon myself to put together the groupings to start the season.
The Flyers are sure to acquire a semi-skilled right winger to replace Mike Knuble in the lineup. But even with the future player yet to be plucked, the Flyers won’t have the depth they did in the past.
Carcillo – Richards – Gagne
The line that used to feature Knuble, suddenly needs a big body in front. Carcillo isn’t as skilled as Knuble, but provides the energy and space creating ability to give Richards and Simon Gagne room. Taking Carcillo off the third or fourth line also spreads out the team’s scoring depth.
Hartnell – Carter – UFA
The Scott Hartnell – Jeff Carter connection remands intact, but the player replacing Joffrey Lupul has yet to be acquired. Laperriere is an option, but the team needs more of a sniper on Carter’s wing. Danny Briere is another option, but the Flyers want to spread out the wealth, keeping Briere with Claude Giroux on the third line.
Briere – Giroux – Laperriere
Laperriere gives Giroux and Briere some space to work and a target up front. Some believe that Giroux, Gagne and Briere will be the french connection for the Flyers, but it will actually be this combination that gives the Flyers the three scoring lines they desire.
Cote – Powe – Asham
Although the fourth line will be the toughest on the Flyers, Powe and Asham have proven they can put points on the board, as well as handle themselves in a fight. Powe’s speedy forecheck and Asham’s ability to finish on turnovers will give the Flyers some potency from what is typically known as an energy line. Prospect James van Riemsdyk is not ready for the NHL and regardless of what some writers say, is not in the Flyers’ plans this year unless he completely dominates camp, which is unlikely.
On defense, the Flyers also need to spread the talent, with four top-end defenders.
Timonen – Coburn
The former top pairing returns together, giving the Flyers size and puck-moving ability. A pure shut-down line.
Pronger – Carle
Matt Carle may be the weakest defensive defenseman on the team and should be matched with the strongest. Carle’s lack of size and ability to puck control, matches well with Pronger’s size and rangy defensive capabilities.
Parent – Jones
Not the strongest pairing, Parent is better defensively than Carle and will allow Randy Jones to work the puck more. Parent’s poise has grown immensely since coming into the league and it will be a nice test for him to see how he does being the shut-down guy in his pairing.
If the Flyers want to load up the first-two pairings, it will likely change to Timonen – Parent and Pronger – Coburn, leaving Carle and Jones together. However, with Pronger averaging 26 minutes and Timonen averaging around the same, the third pairing might not see that much time under this scheme.