Boruk thinks that a move back to center would benefit the Philadelphia Flyers and Giroux. How he came to this conclusion using the points outlined in his piece are puzzling.
For reference, here are Boruk’s lines:
Boruk – 1. The Flyers are considerably more balanced with Giroux at center, with three lines that can do offensive damage and create matchup problems for the opposition, especially at home with last change.
No. Just no. In what world would a line of James van Riemsdyk, Giroux, and Travis Konecny lead to a balanced offensive attack? Those are currently our two best players at scoring at even-strength. Boruk’s descent into madness continues as he has Michael Raffl on the 2nd line centered by Giroux with Jakub Voracek. I love Raffl, but he doesn’t belong anywhere near the 2nd line. He’s scored more than 13 goals in a season once. Couturier, Konecny, and Giroux combined for 33 goals for last season. That was good for 7th best in the NHL for any forward line combo that combined for at least 200 shots. Why would you want to break that up?
Boruk – 2. Konecny could be buried with Giroux at wing. He’s almost guaranteed a spot in the top six if Giroux switches back to center. During the first half of last season, Konecny was paired with players that didn’t have a similar skill set, and consequently, the super-skilled winger struggled to find any offensive rhythm.
How or why Boruk thinks that Konecny would be buried at wing if Giroux doesn’t shift over to center is bizarre. Konecny scored 23 even-strength goals last year, Simmonds had 12. If the Flyers are icing the best lines they can to score at 5v5, Konecny should be in a top-6 role, not Simmonds. I will agree that Konecny struggled to find his game last season, but when you’re playing with the likes of Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise, and former Flyer (WOO!) Valtteri Filppula, it ratchets up the difficulty to get the puck into the back of the net.
Boruk – 3. While effective at times last season, Laughton doesn’t seem ready to jump into the role of a third-line center. The 2012 first-round pick played some of his best hockey late in the season on the left wing with Jori Lehtera at center.
I have no issue with Laughton being our 3rd option at center. Is it ideal? No, but the Flyers have other options too, namely Mikhail Vorobyev and Morgan Frost that they could slot there instead. Let us assume Giroux stays at wing; the Flyers top-6 could be Voracek, Giroux, Patrick, Couturier, Riemsdyk, and Konecny. That is a top-6 group I can get excited about heading into the 2018 season. The other option would be running Couturier, Giroux, and Patrick down the middle which would provide depth but again, Giroux scored the most points in his career playing wing this past season. Why would you want to mess with that?
To conclude, switching Giroux back to center after completing a Hart Trophy-caliber season seems pretty insane, especially given Boruk’s reasoning. In his scenario, the 1st line would be top heavy and potentially force a player like Raffl into a top-6 role that he isn’t suited for. Keep your best player at his best position and figure it out from there.