Injuries to an NHL team can be very devastating.
The Philadelphia Flyers defense has experienced that firsthand as of late.
Clearly the most crucial injury has been that of Chris Pronger’s. The newly appointed Flyers captain went down with a concussion after catching a stick to the eye in October. As a result of post-concussion syndrome, the future Hall of Fame blueliner’s career is most likely finished.
Most recently, the Flyers lost another defensemen for quite some time. Andrej Meszaros will be out indefinitely after tearing his right Achillies while training in Slovakia. The Flyers are losing a very physical presence, with a heavy shot.
So, it can’t get any worse for the Flyers, right?
The team’s blue line took another hit after it was reported that veteran Andreas Lilja underwent hip surgery, keeping him off the ice for some months.
And let’s not forget that the team already watched Matt Carle return to the Tampa Bay Lightning. And, for the sake of Flyers fans, I won’t even get into the Shea Weber let-down.
So, with a defense as depleted as the Flyers, which young guys will step up and fill the holes?
Let’s start with recently re-signed Marc-Andre Bourdon. This past season, Bourdon posted four goals and seven points in 45 games played. Although he lacks some of the size Meszaros possesses, Bourdon is still a very physical player. He too has quite a heavy shot from the point. Being only 22-years old and playing 45 games last year should only help Bourdon’s confidence as he prepares for a larger role.
Another young guy that the Flyers like is Erik Gustafsson. Gus is a smooth-skating defenseman, who showed a lot of responsibility with the puck last season. The 23-year old really stood out to me during playoff series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. He played with a ton of aggression. Gustafsson has a similar play style of Carle and can step in and replace him.
Brandon Manning is yet another young player who could see a larger role than last season. The 22-year old got his feet wet in the big leagues last season, playing just 4 games. Manning held his own defensively, and moved the puck well. In 200 games played in the WHL he netted 46 goals. 27 of those goals were on the man advantage.
While the current state of the Flyers defense isn’t exactly ideal, I believe these young guys can step in and play major roles. Having experience in the NHL should build their confidence.
If there is in fact a season in October, it should be interesting to watch the Flyers young defensemen develop.