The then leading point scorer for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Nick Cousins,with 38 points in 38 games, got the opportunity of a lifetime when the Philadelphia Flyers called him up to the NHL midway through last season. He got the call following an injury that cost centre Sean Couturier four weeks. Cousins was given a golden opportunity to show that he was worthy of an NHL roster spot. In his first game back with the Flyers, Cousins was playing vital minutes. He was on the second line with since departed Sam Gagner and newly re-signed Brayden Schenn. He also recorded an assist in a 3-2 Washington Capitals victory.
Nick Cousins Finishes Strong
The feisty Belleville, Ontario native scored his first career NHL goal just four days later in a whomping 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres and finished the season with the Flyers recording with 10 points in 36 games. Although these are not the greatest statistics in the world, they do show something in particular for the 23-year-old promising 2011 third round Flyers draft pick. “[Cousins] did a good job for us,” noted Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall last week, “but he’s not an established NHL player yet so he’s got to come back in training camp and earn it. That’s probably no different than we expected, but in saying that, he showed a lot of good things. He’s extremely competitive, he’s a smart player, a responsible player. He did a good job for us but he’s got to come back in training camp and show us he’s ready to earn a spot.”
Cousins did impress the Flyers though with his spirited play, however, as he was eventually rewarded with a new contract in July. Although it is only a one-year, two-way $937,125 deal, it is still something that Cousins’ should be happy about. Cousins is also a player to potentially watch out for this season for the parent Flyers thanks to his All Star year in the AHL, as well as some solid games with the Flyers. If he makes the team he could possibly be on the second line but is more realistically a third line player at this point. The Flyers’ first, second and fourth line centers seem to be pretty well set from last year.
Cousins could potentially be a very useful and somewhat dangerous player for the Flyers. According to eliteprospects.com, Cousins is described as “a center with a fairly well-rounded game. A skilled playmaker and set-up man. Gritty and feisty, he doesn’t shy away from the hard areas. Could improve his skating, though.” Numerous amounts of fans saw last year with the Flyers, Cousins’ is not afraid to take a hit or dish them out himself. As noted before, he is a Bob Kelly like player who plays with a full tank of energy and is like a pinball just waiting to hit something and bounce around.
Speed and Skill
Cousins’ speed could be very helpful on the penalty kill while other players such as Claude Giroux or Couturier take a rest on the bench. His agility is not the reason why fans and analysts see him as a second-six forward, it is mostly his size, as well as his skating. At just 5’10″ and 188 pounds, Cousins’ would be the third smallest player on the team next to Matt Read and still little used Jordan Weal.
Cousins brings more to the table than just his speed and grittiness. While he is a relatively small player in today’s NHL, he has good hands, and has become a much better skater. Although he only had 10 points in 36 games, many still believe Cousins will secure a roster spot on the third line and score anywhere from 20-30 points this year.