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How to have a modern-day “enforcer” in the roster.

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  • How to have a modern-day “enforcer” in the roster.

    I found myself really thinking these past couple of weeks about what the Flyers are currently missing in terms of someone, anyone, that can intimidate opposing players into keeping their heads up and/or maybe keep Flyers players from getting stamped when their heads are down.

    So just how sh/would such a role be defined to earn a roster spot in the current NHL when there now seems seems to no longer be any dispute that a pure “enforcer” who contributes nothing else can no longer justify a roster spot.

    I've chimed in in the past as rooting for players such as Rinaldo and/Goulbourne to become legit PK or shut-down defensive players since their offense would always be a complete afterthought. But I loved the aspect of such players that could really skate and would throw their bodies around with abandon (and, could also answer the bell when called out for hits). It seems that neither of those two developed such ability to earn a spot to stay here. Yet neither (and e.g. Goulbourne, but admittedly part of it as an overager) were complete slouches on offense in the CHL junior environment.

    So what then about the CHL/junior players with offensive upside that play physical? Konecny has a bit of a chirper/rat to him, but is seemingly too important to the offense to get “dirty” too much. We’ve seen Farabee recently dropping the gloves as well as landing on the suspended list, which really was not something I was expecting from him; but is he also a “too important” player to have a ‘tough’ role on a team other than making space for himself? Then there’s a player like Aubé-Kubel who was an offensive threat in junior (and he was a 2nd-rounder, no(?)), but projected as a strong-skating defensively-responsible two-way player if he was going to make it to the NHL. So in the last few years Aubé-Kubel has been one of the way-better skating org. prospects, served some suspensions for aggressive plays that went too far and injured opponents, was consistently the Phantoms’ top statistical 5-on-5 player who saw no advantageous icetime like PP, and was focusing on perfecting a 2-way game ... to now he had recently been healthy scratched for an injury depleted AHL squad before this latest sudden NHL call-up in the wake of NHL depletion.

    So, seriously, what the **** should a modern team be looking for in trying to add grit & intimidation to its roster? The Flyers, it seems, are too often happy to throttle players with plus skating & offense away from physicality. At the same time, there has been no success at developing plus-skating defensive & physical players, so the team seems to continue to run out average- to poor-skating marginal physical players who have no offensive prospects while even potentially being a defensive liability.

    The only options for a while now with the Flyers seem to be: a) target speed & skill, and focus on offense and playing clean; or b) target speed & defense, focus on defense and two-way game, yet never seem to give any meaningful opportunity.

    (All of this is with understanding that if a player was a combination of extremely fast, skilled, big, & mean, he would probably be an upper 1st-rounder that every team would want and the Flyers hopefully shouldn’t be in such a draft position)