Flyers trade Nick Cousins, Merrick Madsen to Coyotes

Flyers trade Nick Cousins, Merrick Madsen to Coyotes

Updated: 11:35 p.m.

One day before the Flyers had to submit their protection list to the NHL for next week's expansion draft, they made a minor trade.

Forward Nick Cousins and Harvard goalie prospect Merrick Madsen were sent to Arizona on Friday night for a 2018 fifth-round draft pick and 20-year-old forward prospect Brendan Warren, from the University of Michigan.

This deal benefits both Cousins, who was not a top-six forward for the Flyers, and Madsen, who was part of a deep lineup of goalie prospects, some of whom were well ahead of him.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Warren is a left wing. As a sophomore this past season, he had 10 points (three goals) in 35 games for the Wolverines.

Warren's better season was as a freshman when Michigan won the Big Ten title. That season, Warren had 17 points (five goals) in 38 games. He was a third-round pick by the Coyotes in 2015.

Cousins, who turns 24 in July, had six goals and 16 points, averaging 12 minutes a game for the Flyers in 60 games last season.

A feisty player with good hockey sense, but average speed and hands, Cousins' enthusiasm made him the kind of role player you could use anywhere. Yet, his primary skill set was bottom-six forward.

While Cousins' ice time was up two minutes over last season, it took a nosedive this year in the second half of the season, after he was averaging 15 minutes in February.

He's the kind of grit player who accepts his role without complaining that Vegas might have found attractive in the expansion draft.

It's possible Flyers general manager Ron Hextall moved him in lieu of losing him to Vegas for nothing.

Cousins, who carries an $840,000 salary cap hit, appeared in 107 games for the Flyers over three years with 12 goals and 27 points. He was a third-round selection in the 2011 draft.

The 21-year-old Madsen, who completed his junior year, had a 2.11 goals-against average and .923 save percentage at Harvard this season in 36 games.

He was a sixth-round selection of the Flyers in 2013, but was slotted behind fellow goalies Felix Sandstrom, Carter Hart, Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz in the Flyers' farm system.

Improving Gostisbehere says injuries didn't cause slow start, even if they seemed to

Improving Gostisbehere says injuries didn't cause slow start, even if they seemed to

It began in early March.
 
You could detect a discernable difference in Shayne Gostisbehere's ability to come off the wall quickly, recover in transition, and generate speed off the backcheck.
 
All of that had been missing most of the season because of Gostisbehere's offseason hip and abdominal surgery -- identical to Claude Giroux's -- that carried over far into this winter.
 
Unlike Giroux, who admitted this month that it took until March to feel completely healthy, Gostisbehere still refuses to acknowledge his surgery wreaked havoc this year.
 
One reason why Gostisbehere won't use his surgery as an issue is because he came into his rookie year off major ACL surgery to his left knee and ended up leading all rookie defensemen in points last season.
 
Ghost feels if he could survive losing nearly an entire season of hockey in the AHL and come back to become the best rookie D-man in the NHL the following season, his setback this season can't be all injury-related.
 
"I went through an ACL [tear]," he said. "That's one of the most debilitating injuries you could possibly have for an athlete and I thought I had a pretty good year last year ...
 
"I think it's a lot different. I mean, you could always say, 'Oh yeah, it's the injury. That's it.' For me, it's just looking in the mirror and go put the work in."
 
Instead, he blames it on defensive failure and a lack of confidence after a tremendous rookie season.
 
Ghost has just seven goals, 34 points (minus-20) in 70 games this season versus his rookie year when he finished runner-up in the Calder Trophy race with 17 goals and 46 points and was fifth overall among rookies in scoring.
 
He finally has more dip in his hip, so to speak?
 
"You could look at it like that," Gostisbehere said. "I look at it another way. I'm a no-excuse guy. I think it's more confidence. You have to have confidence to make plays like that and they're risky plays, but they're plays that can be effective.
 
"For me, it's more building of the confidence. It's huge and it's working for me right now and working for our team. We're a confident bunch and it's really showing."
 
Confidence with the puck. That also has been noticeable in his play.
 
"Absolutely," Gostisbehere said. "There's a confidence with the puck. There's also a confidence without it. When you step up on guys, that's a huge thing too. You take yourself out of the play and things like that. It definitely goes both ways."
 
He admitted being "stunned" when coach Dave Hakstol benched him for the first time last November citing "growth and development" issues. Translation: defensive play. He was benched three separate times, totaling five games.
 
Gostisbehere never denied he needed to focus on his defensive play. Here's proof: In his first 48 games, he was minus-19. In his last 21 games, he's minus-1.
 
"I used that [benching] very valuably," he said. "I got out there and worked on the defensive side of my game in good practice hours and I think it's really showing now."
 
Gostisbehere is plus-4 in the month of March and has had seven games of four shots or more, something he said is the result of feeling confident in getting his shot off quickly and accurately from the point.  
 
"Just letting it fly," he said. "Talking to Delly (Michael Del Zotto), just telling me I'm a good player and to go out and do my thing."
 
Hakstol sees a huge turnaround for Ghost in the second half and agrees his injury likely had a significant impact.
 
"When there's a nagging injury, I would say, absolutely," Hakstol said. "But you have to ask Ghost that question if that pertains to him. He's worked through a lot of things."
 
Better defensive positioning in front of the net, better defensive transition off the rush, better turnaround off the wall in one-on-one situations.
 
"It's never as simple as one or two things," Hakstol said. "His attention to detail has been good. His competitiveness. A lot of the game comes down to competitiveness on pucks and individual plays. Ghost has done a good job on that.
 
"What we're seeing now is that same competitiveness defensively and the biggest thing I have seen with Ghost here, of late, is a real high level of confidence with the puck. He's at his highest level now in terms of things he is doing with the puck and the confidence he has."
 
Cousins' status
Nick Cousins, who suffered his second concussion in two years with the Flyers, is day-to-day, the club announced.
 
Cousins took a hard practice with the scratches and is fully cleared to play.
 
"I feel good," he said. "I don't know if I'm 100 percent but I'm close to it. It's just a matter of getting back to game shape and getting my legs back."

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal in, Nick Cousins out

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal in, Nick Cousins out

NEWARK, N.J. -- In comes one forward, out goes the other.

That was the case for the Flyers on Thursday as they took on the Devils at the Prudential Center, trying to keep their heart beating in the playoff race.

Jordan Weal, who missed Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Penguins because of lower-body injury, returned to the lineup and rejoined the team's top line.

The 24-year-old has played well since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Feb. 10. Entering Thursday, he had three goals and an assist in 11 games.

"Did some testing and stuff like that [Wednesday] to see if everything was all good and it was good news," Weal said pregame Thursday. "I'm ready to go now."

Weal has added much-needed speed and playmaking to the Flyers.

"He's proven so far he’s ready to take advantage of this opportunity and help our team, and that's what a player needs to do to be in the lineup," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's done that from the first day he came in.

"He's continued to earn his way, game by game. He's a hungry player, and that's the way he's played every day."

Weal would not say he was 100 percent healthy.

"It is what it is, but we’re going to keep on moving forward," he said. "It will be good." 

Clearly good enough to give it a go for the Flyers, who were without Nick Cousins because of an upper-body injury. It's uncertain when Cousins suffered the injury but he is day to day. Playing limited minutes of late, Cousins totaled 8:52 of ice time in Wednesday's game.

Meanwhile, defenseman Brandon Manning missed a third straight game. He's recovering from an upper-body injury.

"Manning, he was good [Wednesday]," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "Today, he's a little sore, so he's back to day to day."

Defenseman Nick Schultz replaced Manning for the third game in a row.

Forward Michael Raffl, who is expected to be out the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury, is on schedule in his recovery, according to Hextall.