Monday, December 22, 2014

Couturier, one of many stars vs. Leafs, signs contract; Wed. lineup set

TORONTO – The four players the Flyers netted in the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades made impressive debuts on Tuesday as the Flyers opened their exhibition season with a 4-0 win in Toronto.

Couturier, one of many stars vs. Leafs, signs contract; Wed. lineup set

TORONTO – The four players the Flyers netted in the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades made impressive debuts on Tuesday as the Flyers opened their exhibition season with a 4-0 win in Toronto.

Wayne Simmonds scored a power-play goal, Brayden Schenn contributed an assist and some solid faceoff work and penalty killing, Sean Couturier registered a goal, and Jakub Voracek had an assist and made some dazzling passes.

   The Flyers were so impressed with Couturier that they signed him to a three-year entry-level deal on Wednesday. The cap hit is $1.375 million per season, including $450,000 in performances bonuses per year, an NHL source said.

   Couturier is still a long shot to make the club because of the Flyers have little cap space at the moment. (They could open room with some moves, of course.) Even after Ian Laperriere goes on LTIR, the Flyers are believed to have only about $1.3 million of cap room.

The Flyers could keep Couturier on their roster and then send him to juniors after he plays in 10 games.  Because of his young age, he cannot be sent to the AHL Phantoms.
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"It's been a couple of weeks that my agent has been looking to get a contact,” Couturier said after Wednesday morning’s skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. “I am glad it is done and now I can really focus on trying to make the team.”

If he does make the team for good, then the Flyers would have to make a roster move. NHL teams are allowed 50 on the roster and Couturier would be the 51st.

However, according to rules of the entry-level contract, he would not count on the roster until playing his 11th game.(Note: HIS 11th game, not the team's.)  Couturier can play 10 games with the Flyers and no roster move would be needed to be made. After that, if he stays on the team, somebody else would have to be released.

And if he doesn’t stay with the team after 10 games, he would return to junior hockey.

* * * *
As for Tuesday's win in Toronto....
  
Simmonds, 23, was dominant along the boards and one of the game’s most physical players. He scored his goal by stationing himself in front – like Mike Knuble used to do when he played for the Flyers – and tipping in a Matt Carle point drive.

"It’s been a long summer. I’ve been waiting three and a half, four months for that," said Simmonds, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings with Schenn and a second-round draft pick next year for Richards. "I felt good out there."

Simmonds was on a line centered by Schenn. They appear to have good chemistry.

"We played together at different practices and in preseason games" in Los Angeles. "I think that helps," Simmonds said. "We have good communication out there, and all three of us (Eric Wellwood was also on the line) talked a lot out there."

Schenn, 20, who won nine of 16 faceoffs, enjoyed facing his brother, Luke, a defenseman for the Maple Leafs. They had never opposed each other in the NHL, whether in the regular season or preseason.

"When you’re out there, you kind of focus on doing your own thing," Schenn said, "….but it was fun to go against him on this level. It’s pretty special. Growing up as kids, that’s what we wanted to do, so it’s pretty cool."

Couturier, the No. 8 overall pick in the June draft, and Voracek were acquired in the deal that sent Carter to Columbus,

Couturier, 18, is hoping to impress the Flyers’ brass and not be sent back to juniors. In addition to his goal, he had an assist in 17:06.

"I was nervous at the start, but once I got going, I was all right," he said.

 * * * *

  Here is the lineup for Wednesday's game vs. Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center:

GOALIES

Ilya Bryzgalov - starter
Johan Backlund

FORWARDS
Andreas Nodl, Danny Briere, Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Tomas Hyka
Max Talbot, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read
Jody Shelley, Blair Betts, Ben Holmstrom

DEFENSE
Kimmo Timonen and Erik Gustafsson.
Oskars Bartulis and Braydon Coburn.
Kevin Marshall and Andrej Meszaros.

  BTW, it turns out Hyka was not cut from the roster, as the Flyers initially announced last week.

* * * *

  Staff writer Marc Narducci contributed to this report.





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