Yesterday, reports broke that Ryan White would miss Philly’s training camp while recovering from pectoralis surgery. While not a huge story — no offense to Ryan White, but he’s Ryan White — it did underscore the remarkable depth the Flyers have down the middle.
Once healthy, White will be battling the likes of Scott Laughton, Chris VandeVelde, Blair Jones and Nick Cousins for whatever minutes are left at center behind the big four of Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Vincent Lecavalier.
Assuming, of course, that Lecavalier sticks at center. From the Courier-Post:
With training camp set to open next week, Lecavalier is still waiting to see what the new normal will be. Will the Flyers keep him at center, where he played his entire career? Will they try to let 23-year-old Brayden Schenn flourish in the middle instead and ask Lecavalier to get more comfortable at left wing?
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Lecavalier said. “I guess we’ll see what happens the first day of training camp.”
Moving the 34-year-old veteran to the outside full-time might work out for all parties involved. As mentioned, the Flyers moved Lecavalier around plenty last season, including time at LW (which Lecavalier acknowledged he’d never played before) and an ill-fated stint as a fourth-line center (which neither Lecavalier or Flyers coach Craig Berube seemed to think worked.)
But Lecavalier’s game is predicated on offense and making plays, and a full-time move to the left side — where Matt Read, Michael Raffl and R.J. Umberger currently top the depth chart — could provide more consistent opportunities to generate offense.
Moving Lecavalier away from center could also benefit Philly’s two brightest young stars, Schenn and Couturier. GM Ron Hextall’s already on record saying the club wants more offensively from Couturier this season, which probably means a bit more time on the power play (Couturier finished 12th on the team in PPG TOI last year, averaging 1:16 per game.)
Schenn, meanwhile, has also flip-flopped between center and wing, but said midway through last season he’s “real comfortable” playing down the middle.
Another youngster that might benefit from the move? Laughton, who’s looking to crack the roster this year and could be a nice energy guy in a fourth-line center role. Though he does have offensive ability — evident by his 40 goals in 54 games with OHL Oshawa last season — Laughton’s best chance of sticking with the big club might be to crash and bang.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Laughton told Philly.com. “I’m ready for any situation they put me in.”