The 2013 Flyers roster is just about finalized, but as we begin to put free agency in the rear view mirror and turn our attention to the season ahead, there are still a few major questions to answer.
1) Will the Flyers sign a third-line winger, or will a player within the organization get that spot?
2) How will the defense shake out? Too many bodies right now. Moves need to be made, not to mention cap space needs to be found before the season begins.
3) Five centers (at least) on the team right now. Which one is moving to the wing?
The first two questions are going to take some time to answer, but it looks like we might just have an answer to that last one. Brayden Schenn is probably moving to the wing, as Paul Holmgren hinted on Tuesday when introducing Vincent Lecavalier -- a center! -- Ray Emery and Mark Streit to the media.
"We have Claude. We have a couple young centers. We have Max [Talbot] and a little bit with Matt Read. Depth at center is huge. I'm a big believer in the more centers you have, the better off you're going to be. We just added a guy who, whether he plays behind Claude, ahead of Claude, somewhere in there-- but if Giroux, Lecavalier and [Sean] Couturier are your three centers, you're pretty good. That's pretty good. I couldn't be happier with these three guys joining our team and I can't wait for training camp to begin."
Unpack that a bit: Homer is saying that Giroux, Lecavalier and Couturier are the top three centers on the team, and he's noting that Talbot and Read can also play center. He didn't mention Schenn by name, but by saying "we have a couple young centers," he's probably including both Scott Laughton and Schenn with Couturier in that mix. That's a lot of people that can play center and will probably play center at times throughout the season. He's not including Adam Hall, of course, who will probably be the fourth-line center.
But the key here is that "Giroux, Lecavalier and Couturier are your three centers." Brayden Schenn isn't a fourth line player, so that means that he's probably moving permanently to the wing.
It all makes sense. Lecavalier has never played wing before and the second he signed his contract he automatically became one of the Flyers best faceoff guys. Schenn, meanwhile, might be a natural center and he clearly has the potential to be a dominant two-way center in the NHL, but he's played a lot of time at wing in the past with the Flyers.
Schenn's also played most (all?) of his wing time on the left side, and the Flyers are deficient on that side. Lecavalier could play wing, as he mentioned when he first signed here, but he's better suited for the right side.
"I've never played wing, but honestly, I would feel very comfortable on the right side," Lecavalier said. "If you watch me in games, if I have the choice or going on the left side with the puck or the right side, I would choose 99 percent of the time on the right side. It's not something that I really worry about, especially when you're being told you might play with Claude Giroux. I'm really open to that and I'd be really excited about that."
Read, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek are all naturally right side players, so if you're moving a center to the wing, it makes a lot more sense to move a guy who can fill a hole rather than load up on the side where you're already stockpiling talent.
This doesn't mean that Schenn will play wing every second of the year. It's possible and probably even likely that, at some point during the 2013 season, Peter Laviolette will throw Lecavalier on Giroux's wing -- or Giroux on Lecavalier's wing -- and shift Schenn back to center. He has that flexibility, which is a really great thing.
But when it comes to a night-in, night-out basis, it makes a whole lot more sense for Schenn to be a winger. As much as I drool at the idea of Lecavalier and Giroux on the same line every night, the thought of Vinny, Claude and Couturier down the middle excites me even more.