Photo by Amy Irvin/38Photography.
With Michael Raffl on the shelf after blocking a shot in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Edmonton, the Philadelphia Flyers have to find yet another left wing to play with the dynamic duo of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. This time it's Chris Vandevelde’s turn. Vandevelde took a few shifts with the top line in the 3rd period after Raffl got hurt, and didn’t look totally out of place. However, he has just seven points in 54 career NHL games.
Vandevelde was nearly a point per game player his senior year at the University of North Dakota in 2010 but has yet to produce at the professional level. Last year was his first season in the Philadelphia organization putting up 24 points in 41 games for the Phantoms and just a single assist in 18 games for the Flyers. This season he has played in 8 games thus far, scoring a goal and adding two assists. Vandevelde has spent the majority of his time here on the 4th line, but here he’ll get a chance to prove his worth with the injury to Raffl.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have both spent more time with Vandevelde than I expected as they both have been on the ice with him for about seven minutes. In this short amount of time the group appears to have some chemistry and increased puck possession.
At 5v5 play Vandevelde has a 63.6 corsi for percentage with Giroux, and just less than that at 62.5 percent with Voracek. When you adjust those numbers for zone starts, they both jump up above 70 percent. These are some pretty good numbers for any line, now they just have to find a way to sustain it.
Vandevelde is a big body and can work well in the corners, which is exactly what Craig Berube said he wants on that top line. Now lets look at some stats for a handful of miscellaneous players that received small amounts of playing time on the top line last season.
Giroux and Voracek were able to still control play with Tye McGinn and Steve Downie on the ice, both of whom are somewhat similar to Vandevelde in size and skill. Both of these guys are typically 3rd or 4th liners but were able to keep the top line on track in the absence of Scott Hartnell or Michael Raffl last year.
Overall this isn’t an extreme move by Berube one way or the other. Vandevelde will get a preliminary look on the top line during tonight’s game against Florida. If he succeeds: great. If he falters: there will be plenty of time to mix and match to find the right fit.
Make sure you check out Flyerdelphia tomorrow for an article analyzing the play of the Flyers top line against the Panthers.
Ryan Gilbert is a Contributing Writer for Flyerdelphia, follow him on Twitter @RiskyBryzness.