Flyers sign prospect Cousins

The Flyers drafted Nick Cousins with a third-round pick obtained from Columbus in the Jeff Carter trade. (Matt Slocum/AP file photo)

Flyers draft pick Nick Cousins loves to chirp.

Once, in an OHL game last November, Cousins was celebrating a third period goal which got a London Knights player so angry that he two-handed Cousins across the gut.

That slash started a game-ending melee on the ice.

On Monday night, Cousins was chirping - and breaking news - online.

Cousins announced via his Twitter page that he agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal which was later confirmed by the team. Cousins, 18, was a third-round pick (68th overall) by the Flyers last June - the other pick from the Jeff Carter deal with Columbus.

“Just signed my first NHL contract,” Cousins (@cous27) tweeted. “Feels good to officially be a part of the Flyers organization. Off to Glens Falls (Tuesday). #playoffpush”

Cousins signed an amateur tryout contract (ATO) to join the Phantoms for the remainder of their season. 

Normally, players under 20 are not permitted to play in the AHL, per the confidential NHL and CHL junior league agreement, though a special exception is made for players whose team has been eliminated from playoff contention. As such, Cousins will not be eligible to play in the AHL next season.

In the meantime, it will certainly be interesting to watch Cousins perform at the professional level. He could be one of the most fun players to watch in the Flyers’ organization.

Cousins is just 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, but he is an agitator. He gets under skin. And he can score. He wrapped up his third season in Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) with 35 goals and 53 assists for 88 points in 65 games. 

Cousins finished tied for 5th in OHL scoring. He was the Greyhounds’ leading scorer by a whopping 32 point margin.

The scouting report on Cousins is that he is a crafty playmaker with good hands and a decent work ethic. He is not overly physical and is not a huge hitter like Zac Rinaldo, despite his mouth, but he won't shy away.

One knock on Cousins has been his skating and speed. But he has plenty of time to work on that - with a development camp, training camp, and another full season in juniors likely along the way.

Since Cousins is unlikely to join the Flyers next season out of training camp, with their bevy of centers in the lineup, the first year of his contract will slide to begin in 2013-14. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.

But judging by his style and comments from his peers, Cousins is a player who could have a bright future in the Flyers’ organization.

“Nick will get under your skin,” teammate Ryan Sproul said back in November. “He’s the kind of guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against.”

DeKEYSER STAYS: After we informed you that the Flyers - and many other teams - were interested in Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser, it appears that he will be staying in school for his junior season.

DeKeyser was expected to generate offers from all 30 NHL teams after the Broncos were knocked out of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.

“Prouder than hell to be a Bronco for the next year, at least,” DeKeyser wrote on Twitter

We still haven’t heard much follow-up with regards to Minnesota-Duluth prospect J.T. Brown. Stay tuned. 

STAT TO KNOW: Scott Hartnell reclaimed the NHL’s lead in power play goals with his 16th during the third period of Monday night’s loss to Tampa Bay. The Penguins’ James Neal is second with 15. Overall, Hartnell is tied for fourth in the NHL with 36 goals, knotted with Alex Ovechkin and Phil Kessel

“I lost handle of it and it popped out in the front and Bryz didn't see it. It's just one of those things where I think the sooner I put it behind me the better off I'll be. Obviously it's gut wrenching to have that happen and I just want to apologize to my teammates and all the fans and everybody that paid a ticket to come to the game tonight. So it's hard to swallow right now especially in a playoff race and where we are in the standings right now. Those are a huge two points that we needed.”

-Flyers defenseman Matt Carle admirably taking the blame for the Flyers’ loss after his brutal turnover in front of Ilya Bryzgalov late in the third period on Monday. It wasn’t all Carle’s fault, however, as the Flyers were already cooked by prior miscues, turnovers and mistakes.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers