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Grading the 2009 Flyers: Braydon Coburn

This is the first part of what will be a multi-part series here at Broad Street Hockey, grading the 2009 Philadelphia Flyers on an individual basis. There will be no real order to this thing -- you know, just to keep you on your toes. Props to David at Mile High Hockey for the idea.

Grade: B

2009/09 Salary: $1.2 million - 2008/09 Cap Hit: $1.3 million

2009/10 Status: Under Contract

Paired with:

  • Matt Carle on 58.8% of even strength shifts,
  • Kimmo Timonen on 17.9%.
  • Also played on penalty kill and power play units.
  • Averaged 24:37 of ice time per game.

Depth Chart Ranking: #2 on defense

[Broad Street Hockey Profile Page] - [Hockey Reference Profile Page]

2008 - Braydon Coburn 80 7 21 28 7 97 3 0 0 1 130 5.4

Ever since he was stolen away from the Atlanta Thrashers for Alexei Zhitnik in 2007, Braydon Coburn has had the potential to be one of the best defenseman we've seen in a Flyer uniform quite some time. In 2007/08, his first full season in Philadelphia, Coburn took major steps toward fulfilling those expectations by leading the team in plus/minus rating with 17 and playing consistent first pairing minutes Kimmo Timonen.

When both he and Timonen went down with injuries in the Eastern Conference Finals, it became widely known how important he was to the Flyers defense, if his contributions hadn't been known already. So returning to the Flyers for his second full season, expectations were even higher for the 24-year-old defenseman. He has shown that he can rise to those expectations.

He led the Flyers in ice time this season, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. He was extremely solid in the defensive zone, as expected, all year, and his work on the power play and penalty kill was crucial in allowing each of those units to rank among the NHL's elite. It cannot be overlooked that his partner, Matt Carle, came to the Flyers via trade as a player who had not reached his full potential. By season's end, Carle was an integral, important, and solid piece in the Flyers defensive jigsaw puzzle, and Coburn's presence no doubt helped Carle realize some of his potential.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of Coburn during the first year and a half of his tenure in South Philly has been the knock that he doesn't use his big frame as well as he could. Some have even called him soft. But beginning around the start of the second half of this season, Coburn was clearly playing a more physical brand of hockey. He was fighting for pucks in corners and laying strong, punishing body checks on opponents when necessary. It came at a time when the Flyers needed a solid physical presence on defense, and while he can still develop this portion of his game more, he made excellent steps in the right direction this season.

Coburn earns a B because of the steps he took this past year, but he doesn't get a higher grade because there is still so much more he can do. He can be even more physical and he can definitely become a more solid performer on the offensive side of things. His defensive attributes are stellar and will continue to get even better, but if he can develop a presence on the offensive end of the ice, the sky is the limit for Braydon Coburn.

Next up in our Grading the Flyers series is forward Joffrey Lupul.