There’s something special about watching someone of immense talent embark on their first professional season.
For Flyers fans, they’ll get that opportunity multiplied by two.
On Monday, general manager Ron Hextall announced that both 2015 first round picks, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, had made the Flyers opening night roster. That sent the fan base into a rush of emotions as the youth movement had gained speed faster than expected.
Konecny and Provorov will bring a little bit of everything between the two of them. Konecny is the offensive spark plug with quick hands and a knack for contact despite his smaller frame. In the preseason, Konecny put up a team-high six points, and it appears he’ll be given plenty of opportunity to succeed working on a line with Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier, as well as the second power play unit.
With Provorov, he won’t be as flashy as Shayne Gostisbehere was as a rookie, but he’ll be incredibly sound in all three zones. He’s drawn comparisons to Kimmo Timonen as someone who will never make a mistake and will contribute wherever he’s placed, whether it’s on 5-on-5 or on the power play.
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Mainstays like Claude Giroux, Steve Mason, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn will remain at the head of the class on the team, but what about the younger guys that fans will be watching this season?
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of eyes to go around. While the two rookies will draw the attention, Gostisbehere will remain as exciting as ever in his second season. The 23-year-old defenseman was an offensive firework last season en route to be named a runner-up for the top honor as a rookie, the Calder Trophy. With 46 points in 64 games, the man known as “Ghost” will be expected to take another step forward in his first full NHL season. He’ll have a little more offensive talent to work with, which should bode well for his production.
Perhaps the oldest, young player ever, Couturier enters his sixth NHL season at the ripe age of 23-years-old. He still has a ton of room to grown, particularly on the offensive end, and both Dave Hakstol and Ron Hextall[tab]believe he’ll flourish working on a line with Konecny and Voracek. Couturier, too, told reporters he’s never had that type of talent alongside him. Before battling with injuries last season, he was on pace for a 50-point season. He’ll be expected to hit that mark this time around.
Hextall challenged Cousins this offseason in saying he needed to come into camp and earn a spot despite playing strong down the stretch last year. The 21-year-old answered the bell, so much so that he’ll even get some time on the top power play unit in the absence of Brayden Schenn and his three-game suspension. Cousins is a skilled player that also serves as an agitator. He’s earned the respects of his teammates and has grown much more comfortable in what will be his first full season with the Flyers.