Is Lecavalier headed back to left wing?


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 “I’m ready for any situation they put me in.”

Video: Poile likes Lavy’s ‘fun way to play’


Nashville general manager David Poile met with reporters today after naming Peter Laviolette the Predators’ new head coach. Here are some highlights from the presser:

— Poile wanted four things in a new coach:
1. A good person.
2. Someone that brought a “little bit different style of play” compared to longtime predecessor Barry Trotz (translation: more up-tempo, offensive-oriented).
3. Someone with a track record of winning in the regular season and playoffs.
4. Someone that had won a Stanley Cup, which Laviolette did in Carolina (2006).

— The hiring process was sped up after other coaching vacancies sprung up around the league. (Florida, Washington, Vancouver, and Carolina all need new head coaches still.)

— Poile liked that Laviolette’s teams have generally been high-scoring, and he credited the coach for the development of young forwards like Eric Staal, Justin Williams, Matt Cullen, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Matt Read, and Wayne Simmonds.

— With the Preds’ already-strong goaltending and blue line, plus Laviolette’s more offensive system (that’s also a more “fun way to play”), Poile thinks Nashville can be a “lot better” next season.

— Poile admitted the Preds still need a “big-time forward,” so expect them to take a center or winger with the 11th pick in the upcoming draft.

With Laviolette gone, here’s the NHL’s coaching vacancy landscape


Considering how in-demand Peter Laviolette appeared to be prior to getting scooped up by Nashville — online oddsmaker Bovada had him as the 3-to-1 favorite to land the Washington gig, for example — it’s likely that his hire will shift the NHL’s coaching vacancy landscape.

As of today, there are openings in Vancouver, Washington, Florida and Carolina. Questions remain about Randy Carlyle’s future in Toronto and Todd McLellan’s in San Jose, so there could be as many as six potential jobs available — but, if Carlyle and McLellan hit the open market, that’s two more viable candidates added to the mix.

Speaking of that mix, names currently in it include Barry Trotz, John Stevens, Kevin Dineen, Jeff Blashill, Mike Haviland, Guy Boucher, Willie Desjardins and Brad Shaw (to name a few.) You can also throw the four recently dismissed bench bosses in the mix — John Tortorella, Peter Horachek, Kirk Muller and Adam Oates — though the bloom is definitely off the rose to a varying degree for all of them.

Here are some things to consider regarding the Laviolette hire:

One of the better offense-minded candidates is gone

In today’s release, Nashville cited Laviolette’s “offensive-minded philosophy” as one of the key reasons for his hire. Six times in eight seasons Laviolette’s teams finished in the NHL’s top-10 in goals scored; he was also credited for the maturation and development of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read in Philadelphia (Nashville GM David Poile also praised Laviolette for developing Eric Staal in Carolina). The Preds probably weren’t the only team looking for an offensive punch, either — Carolina finished 22nd in the NHL in goals last year, Vancouver 28th and Florida 29th.

One of the most experienced candidates is gone

Experience often matters when looking for a new coach, and Laviolette has plenty of it. He has nearly 400 career wins, won a Cup in Carolina in 2006 and, four years later, took the Flyers all the way to the final before losing to Chicago. That’s big. In Florida, GM Dale Tallon said he wants an experienced bench boss this time around — after his last three were rookie head coaches — and Laviolette’s name had come up with regards to the vacancy.

He was actually available to interview

One of the problems facing teams right now is that several prime candidates are busy, y’know, coaching their teams. Stevens, the assistant in Los Angeles, is in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs; Blashill (AHL Grand Rapids) and Desjardins (AHL Texas) are currently up against one another in the Calder Cup Western Conference semifinal. It also stands to reason that a number of GMs are waiting to see what happens with Carlyle and McLellan, both of whom are still under contract. According to whispers, the McLellan watch is already on in Vancouver.

Perron (hip) won’t play for Canada in Worlds, MacKinnon will


Those looking for ways to connect Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon with fellow Nova Scotia-native Sidney Crosby got more fuel today. At the age of 18, MacKinnon has been added to Team Canada’s roster for the World Championship, just like Crosby was in 2006, per the Canadian Press.

MacKinnon had two goals and 10 points in seven playoff games, but it wasn’t enough to put the Avalanche past Minnesota in the first round. The Calder Trophy favorite will have a tough time living up to Crosby’s Worlds debut though, as the Penguins forward had eight goals and 16 points in nine games in the 2006 tournament.

Philadelphia Flyers forwards Brayden Schenn and Matt Read were also added to Canada’s roster.

Canada lost Edmonton’s David Perron though. The Oilers announced that the 25-year-old forward is dealing with a hip injury.

Steve Mason tested often early in first start of playoffs


Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason missed the start of the Flyers’ first round series against the New York Rangers with an upper-body injury, but he returned for Game 3 and is making his first start of the playoffs tonight.

Mason has very little postseason experience and hasn’t won a playoff game before. So far it looks like he’ll have his work cut out for him if he wants to change that tonight.

The Rangers put a lot of pressure on the 25-year-old goaltender in the first period and were rewarded early when Dominic Moore found the back of the net on a wraparound.

The Flyers went on to be outshot 16-6 in the first period, but Mason settled down and kept them in the game. Thanks to his efforts, the game is tied through 20 minutes on the strength of Matt Read’s first goal of the playoffs.