Can The Philadelphia Flyers Rely On Youth For Success In '12-'13?

By Randy Holt

To this point in the summer, the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t exactly had the best of luck adding anything to their roster in the way that they had hoped.

Still in need of some additional scoring up front and a whole lot of defense, as well as a backup goaltender, the Flyers look prepared to throw a great deal of their youth into action this season.

Of course, we saw plenty of it last year. Up front, Sean Couturier and Matt Read both turned in very strong seasons, and we saw some nice things from Brayden Schenn once he returned from his concussion and injury issues from early on in the season. And don’t forget about the revolving door we saw with all of the youngsters on the blue line.

Having subtracted both Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk, along with Matt Carle and the now injured Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja, the pressure is going to be up on everyone all over the roster, but the youth is going to have to step up in a big way this season.

Couturier and Matt Read are both going to be expected to contribute as much, if not in even larger roles than they played last season. Eric Wellwood may see some more action as well. Brayden Schenn will likely have more pressure on him than any of them as he’s expected to provide some nice numbers in the middle for Philly.

When you look on the blue line, Marc-Andre Bourdon is likely going to be expected to play bigger minutes this year. Also look for Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson to see a good chunk of time this year.

And those are just guys that saw time on the big club last season. The Flyers’ first round pick from 2011, Nick Cousins might get a long look at training camp and maybe even, though less likely, this year’s first rounder Scott Laughton.

There’s going to be plenty of youth on this team this year and a lot of young guys are going to get plenty of opportunities to prove they belong when training camp rolls around. But can a team with as much youth as the Flyers might have in their lineup succeed for very long?

When it comes to the forward ranks, this team will be just fine. They have a solid group up there and some elite talent that will find ways to put the puck in the net. But when you look on the blue line, the youth is going to be a concern, especially when you’re relying on these youngsters to keep the puck away from Ilya Bryzgalov.

It’s going to be an interesting thing to watch for this team during the season, particularly on defense. But as many young names might be in the mix, and as much faith as Paul Holmgren has in his young guys, I wouldn’t expect them to stand pat for too long and roll with so much youth on the blue line.

Regardless of what roster moves they may make, there is going to be a large influx of youth for this team, as we’ve already seen over the past year. It might make for some rough stretches, but will be an exciting development to watch as the season wears on.

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