Flyers Notes: Briere moves to new line with Couturier, Gagne

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Flyers Notes: Briere moves to new line with Couturier, Gagne

Danny Briere has not scored a goal in 10 games. Sean Couturier has not scored in 21 games.
 
On Tuesday, as the Flyers prepare to meet the Devils Wednesday in Newark, N.J., coach Peter Laviolette switched two lines around, placing Briere on the wing with Couturier and Simon Gagne.

Call it "French Connection II."
 
“When you’re not winning games, there’s going to be changes,” Briere said. “It’s always been the same. It’s not going to change. Hopefully, the other two French guys can start something. I’ve played with Simon quite a bit before. At least it’s someone I know. Get some young legs with us. Should be fun.”
 
Briere last played with Gagne on April 9, 2010, in New York against the Rangers when he scored a pivotal goal that kept the Flyers' playoffs hopes alive going into the season-finale shootout win against those same Rangers two days later.
 
This will be the 11th different line for Briere this season.
 
It will be Couturier’s 12th line.
 
“We can speak French and get some strategy going without the other team knowing it,” Couturier kidded.
 
The goalie
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has started 25 of 27 games this season.

Asked again whether he has played too many games, he gave a roundabout answer.
 
“It’s always nice to play the game,” he said. “That is what you practice for. Sometimes you get tired but you don’t have a choice. It’s out of my hands.”
 
Asked whether he talks to  Laviolette about the amount of games he plays, he said he was “strictly forbidden” to discuss conversations with the coach in public.
 
The other goalie
Devils goalie Marty Brodeur skated Tuesday on his own for the first time since being placed on injured reserve in late February.
 
Brodeur won’t play against the Flyers.
 
“Marty did skate this morning,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told the Newark Star Ledger. “There is no timetable until he's 100 percent. It's part of his rehab to get strength. He's been off the ice quite a while now. It's still going to be a little bit. As far as a time, I couldn't even tell you.”
 
That means the Flyers get to see Johan Hedberg, who is 9-10-1 lifetime against the Flyers in 22 games with one shutout. Which is better than seeing Brodeur, who is 47-30-9 in 87 games with 10 shutouts.
 
“They’re both good goalies,” Scott Hartnell said. “When Hedberg has been in, he’s been pretty consistent for them in the past, as well. They’re both similar. They play the puck well. We’ve got to be careful where we dump pucks to create our forecheck.”
 
Loose pucks
The Flyers traded prospect Matt Ford to the Columbus Blue Jackets for future considerations. ... Defenseman Kimmo Timonen did not skate on Tuesday. General manager Paul Holmgren said he had a maintenance day. ... The other line change going into Wednesday’s game against the Devils is Matt Read moving to Brayden Schenn’s line with Wayne Simmonds. ... Laviolette said it was very beneficial for young defenseman Erik Gustafsson to sit in the press box Sunday against Buffalo to observe the game from a distance and realize he can hold onto the puck long and do so much more with the puck if he’s more patient with it. However, late Tuesday night Gustafsson was sent to the Phantoms. ... The Flyers were slated to leave for Newark at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.