One of the biggest questions facing the Flyers this offseason was what they’d do with the sheer quantity of forwards suddenly on the list of players who could make the team this next year. The team had 11 NHL forwards under contract, multiple others that are currently on entry-level deals or had just seen said deals expire (putting them in restricted free agent status), and on top of that they’re about to add the No. 2 pick in the draft. (People forget that.)
All in all, the Flyers’ forward situation — even accounting for the fact that the team very well could lose a forward to Vegas next week — had the look of a situation where, lest the team was prepared to lose guys on waivers for nothing, something had to give. Tonight, it appears something gave, and that something was current Flyers forward Nick Cousins, as he and Harvard goalie prospect Merrick Madsen are heading to Arizona:
ARI sends 5th round pick and Brendan Warren (Univ of Michigan) to PHI for Nick Cousins.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 17, 2017
G Merrick Madsen in that Coyotes/Flyers deal too.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 17, 2017
Cousins, who cracked the Flyers’ roster for good in February 2016, played 107 games for the Flyers after being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft. He played in 59 games this past season before suffering an injury in mid-March and not playing again until the Flyers’ final game of the season on April 9.
With the number of young forwards on the cusp of making this team, it always seemed like Cousins — who was an occasional healthy scratch over the past two seasons, and who was a fine enough bottom-6 guy but never really differentiated himself as anything special during his time here — was one who could maybe find himself on the outside looking in once the Flyers had a full lineup put together. Getting something in a trade for him is good for the Flyers, while Arizona now has another bottom-6 forward option as well as a forward who meets exposure requirements for next week’s expansion draft.
As for Madsen, he followed up an outstanding sophomore season in 2015-16 with a strong 2016-17, in which he posted a .923 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average in 36 games. Madsen, who was named captain of Harvard’s team for his senior year, had one more year of eligibility before the Flyers would have had to bring him in (or lose his rights), and with the sheer volume of quality goalie prospects the team currently has, it likely felt Madsen was a player it was comfortable parting with — especially if, as Friedman noted, Madsen wasn’t a lock to sign with the team next spring/summer.
ARIZ/PHI deal also includes Harvard G Merrick Madsen. Had great year in NCAAs, was no guarantee to sign with Flyers.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 17, 2017
Anywho, the return! Warren, a 6’1”, 185-pound left wing, was a 2015 third-round pick of the Coyotes and is teammate of current Flyers prospect Cooper Marody. He’ll begin his junior year at Michigan next fall. Warren posted just 13 points in 35 games this past season after posting 17 in his freshman year, so it’s likely the Coyotes just soured on him a bit. He’s another forward to watch in the Flyers’ prospect ranks, even if he appears to be a bit of a long shot at this point. As for the fifth-round pick, it’s a 2018 pick from the Coyotes.
In any case, the Flyers have now made a trade in advance of Saturday afternoon’s trade freeze. We’ll see if anything else happens between now and then.