As the days wear on this summer, the blue line for the Philadelphia Flyers is getting thinner and thinner.
Already having lost Matt Carle to free agency, the Flyers have lost Andrej Mezsaros and Andreas Lilja to injury, with the former likely gone for the year–or at least until the spring.
The defenseman the club has actually added this summer has been Luke Schenn, as hard as they tried to land Shea Weber. That has left an expectation that this team is going to be leaning heavily on a lot of the youth on the blue line, particularly Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustaffson.
But looking towards the top of the blue line, the established defensemen on this team are going to have to step it up as well. Perhaps none more than Braydon Coburn.
Coburn is one of the league’s more underrated d-men, though it remains to be seen if he can step up into the role he may have to for Philly to get by defensively. The former first round pick posted 24 points for the Flyers, with four goals and 20 assists on the season.
For the first time in his career, Coburn is going to be relied upon to handle first pairing minutes. Kimmo Timonen won’t be able to take the beating and log the type of minutes up there, meaning it’s going to be Coburn as the number one guy by default. How he handles it is going to be a big storyline for the Flyers this season.
Coburn has the physical tools to succeed as a top guy for the Flyers. He’s big and he’s physical, so he’s tough the play against from the defensive perspective. The biggest question is going to be his offense. Can he supply enough to be effective for the Flyers? He’s shown flashes, but he’s going to have to put together some offensive consistency to work as the number one guy.
Braydon Coburn is a guy that has been around the block. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what is expected of him. He could very well end up being a solid option as a number one guy for the Flyers on the blue line.