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October 11, 2016

Flyers notes: Cousins on the first power play, salary cap gymnastics, and new numbers

Last season, Nick Cousins took advantage of an opportunity and became a mainstay down the stretch in the Flyers lineup as the third line center. While he’s being moved to left wing this year, Cousins will get another new role for at least the first three games of the season.

During the Flyers’ special teams heavy practice on Tuesday in Voorhees, Cousins was manning the slot on the first power play. And the job is all his while Brayden Schenn sits out three games to begin the season. According to Dave Hakstol, Cousins’ skill set was an easy fit for the position.

“He’s a guy that can make plays in tight spaces, he reads plays very well, and also coming up ice, he’s one of our best guys in terms of power-play entry,” Hakstol said.

Cousins is joining a unit that has been among the league’s best for the last few years with its current personnel. Before a late Gostisbehere-fueled push improved the Orange and Black to 11th by last season’s end at 18.9 percent, the power play finished 6th, 3rd, 7th, and 3rd in the NHL over the previous four years.

Every Flyers fan knows the other names on the first power play, with every player having already taken ownership of his position. For a short time, Cousins is trying to simply fit in his role.

“I’m trying to get open for G [Claude Giroux] when he’s got the puck on the half wall, maybe open something cross-ice to Jakey [Jake Voracek] on the other side,” Cousins said. “I’m just trying to get open, get my stick on pucks when Ghost [Shayne Gostisbehere] is shooting. Go to the net, that’s where goals are scored on power plays in the front. You look at Simmy [Wayne Simmonds], I think all his goals are two feet in front of the blue paint. I’m sort of just on the edge of that.”

Cousins, who hasn’t played on a team’s top man advantage unit since his AHL days, knows this will be a short cameo. Schenn will almost assuredly get the job back for the home opener October 20th against Anaheim.

But to open the year, he’ll be on the ice with all of that firepower.

“It’s a tough place to play but I’m open for the challenge,” Cousins said. “You got to make good, quick plays in the middle, and you got to get in front and bang some greasy goals in. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Musical chairs

With the 5:00 p.m. deadline for NHL teams to trim their active rosters down to 23 players upon us, the Flyers had to do a bit of salary cap gymnastics to simply field a team. Ron Hextall and co. got their Sam Hinkie on over the past few days.


That’s what happens when two players (Radko Gudas, Schenn) are suspended and another two (Scott Laughton, Michael Del Zotto) are injured to start the year. As it turns out, the roster that the Flyers submit today won’t be the one that they’ll bring to Los Angeles on Friday.

Gudas and Schenn need to take up spots, so the Flyers must then turn to their injured players. Because he makes less money than Del Zotto, Laughton is already on something called ”long-term injured reserve.” Tomorrow, Del Zotto will join him. From Cap Friendly:

When a player has an injury of which they are expected to miss 10 games and 24 days, the team can place them on long term injured reserve (LTIR) to receive cap relief.

That cap relief (or the amount the team can exceed the cap) is the cap hit of the LTIR player (in this case, Del Zotto’s $3.875 million) minus the amount of cap space available ($113,333), which means the Flyers can now exceed the cap by $3.72 million while Del Zotto is on LTIR.

Today, the Flyers are going to assign Roman Lyubimov ($950,000 cap hit) to Lehigh Valley and keep Jordan Weal ($650,000) on the roster. Tomorrow, the Flyers will place Del Zotto on LTIR (long-term injured reserve) alongside Laughton. Then, they’ll switch Lyubimov and Weal, something they'll be able to do because of the salary cap relief they'll get from the MDZ move.

Lyubimov will be the Flyers’ only extra skater against Los Angeles, which means they’ll only bring six healthy defensemen for a West Coast back-to-back. Desperate times...

“Unfortunately, we can’t cover ourselves,” Hextall said. “I wish we could bring one of each, one D and one forward and get covered as much as we can be. So we’re going to bring a forward, we made that decision. And like I said, if we got to get a guy in Phoenix, we’ll get a guy out.”

As for what the Flyers decide to do when all of their players return, well, that’s a question for another day.

New numbers for the kids

One of the perks of making the NHL roster for Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny is that they were able to ditch the “offensive line numbers” they had to wear in the preseason. Konecny goes from 63 to 11, Provorov moves from 60 to 9, and Cousins slims down from 52 to 25:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann