NHL Playoffs: Penguins to start Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 against Lightning – Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia

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In the first part of our five-part offseason series examining the future of the Flyers, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone give their opinions on who will be and who won’t be on the roster. We go alphabetically.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
2015-16 stats: 74 GP, 7 G, 7 A; Contract: Signed through 2016-17, $725,000 cap hit

Dougherty: Bellemare is cheap, kills penalties and can play all three forward positions. He doesn’t score much, but that doesn’t matter much in the role he’s in. He has one year left on his contract, and if there’s a fourth liner who should be on his way out, it’s not Bellemare. More later.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: One of the Flyers’ top penalty-killers, a player Dave Hakstol and Ron Hextall like for his aggressive but clean game. Bellemare helped comprise a productive fourth line and is under contract through the 2016-17 season. 

Verdict: STAY

Paone: A versatile yet gritty fourth line is such a valuable weapon in today’s NHL. Bellemare was the center of the Flyers’ version this season and produced with seven goals and four assists. He’s also a key cog in a penalty kill that gradually improved throughout the season. Plus, his contract is very manageable. He’ll be back in his familiar roles.

Verdict: STAY

Nick Cousins
2015-16 stats: 36 GP, 6 G, 4 A; Contract: Restricted free agent

Dougherty: I really liked the energy Cousins brought to the Flyers when he came up permanently last season. He was inserted into a second-line role when Sean Couturier went down during the season with a lower-body injury and Cousins outplayed his expectations. He earned a spot on the team during Couturier’s absence and stayed here when Couturier returned. He should enter next season as the Flyers’ third-line center, but again, he’ll have to earn it in camp.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: Cousins is a pending restricted free agent this offseason, but all signs point to the Flyers retaining him. He’s a young, inexpensive center the club clearly has hopes for in the future. Next season could be his first full NHL campaign — a huge opportunity.

Verdict: STAY

Paone: After his late season call-up, the 22-year-old center showed promise with six goals and five assists in 36 games played, mostly in a third-line role. He’s a restricted free agent and will be due a bit of raise from the $892,500 he made last season, but he showed too much to give up on this early. He’ll wear orange and black next year, and likely for at least a few more seasons after. With his skates solidly entrenched at the NHL level now, he’ll have the chance to really show what he can do.

Verdict: STAY

Sean Couturier
2015-16 stats: 63 GP, 11 G, 28 A; Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $4.3 mm cap hit

Dougherty: Couturier’s six-year contract extension signed last summer kicks in July 1. He’s not going anywhere, for a long time. And he shouldn’t. He’s the Flyers’ most important forward. He’s among the elite defensive centers in the league and this season, his offensive game took a major step forward. He just brings too much to the table to even consider moving.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: Yeah, this is a no-brainer. Couturier is going nowhere. It’s hard to believe he’s still only 23 years old and getting better. Unless the Flyers are completely blown away by some can’t-say-no trade, Couturier is here for the future.

Verdict: STAY

Paone: With each passing year, Couturier’s all-around game continues to come into its own and he shows he can be more than just the Flyers’ most trusted defensive forward pivot. His 39 points this season tied a career high, and he produced those in just 63 games as he missed time with a foot injury. And who knows how the playoff series with the Capitals could have been different (especially on the penalty kill) if the 23-year-old hadn’t been injured in Game 1 and forced to miss the rest of the series. Needless to say, he’s back unless the Flyers are absolutely blown away with a trade offer. Slim chance of that, though.

Verdict: STAY

Michael Del Zotto
2015-16 stats: 52 GP, 4 G, 9 A; Contract: Signed through 2016-17, $3.875 mm cap hit

Dougherty: If the Flyers wanted to move a defenseman this summer to free up a spot for one of their young defensive prospects, Del Zotto would be an interesting piece. He has a $3.875 million cap hit and is on the final year of his contract, coming off a strong season with the Flyers that was cut short because of torn ligaments in his left wrist. But moving Del Zotto this summer doesn’t make much sense for the Flyers. He’s still young, eats a lot of minutes and moves the puck adequately. If anything, he’s probably someone we should talk about extending instead of shedding.

Verdict: STAY

Hall: Del Zotto has a sizeable cap hit next season of $3.875 million, per generalfanager..com, and can become an unrestricted free agent the following offseason. Coming off season-ending wrist surgery that cost him the final two months of the regular season and the playoffs, 2016-17 will be important for Del Zotto. He’ll be an attractive trade chip for the Flyers come the deadline. Not a bad piece to move given the Flyers’ crowded defensive future.

Verdict: STAY

Paone: Last season, Del Zotto rejuvenated his career in his first year with the Flyers. This season, the offensive-minded defenseman focused on improving his all-around game and excelled at doing so before a wrist injury ended his season in February. When talking about Flyers’ defensemen, you always have to look toward the future with all the talented prospects in the pipeline. But Del Zotto is still just 25 and, as we saw before his injury, still improving different aspects of his game. One would think the older veteran defenseman would be on the chopping block before Del Zotto. He’s back before his contract is up at the end of next season.

Verdict: STAY

Sam Gagner
2015-16 stats: 53 GP, 8 G, 8 A; Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Dougherty: Gagner is sort of an enigma. Last season was a whirlwind that saw him healthy scratched, waived, sent to the AHL, brought back up and thrusted into a top-nine role. He played well for the Flyers down the stretch and seemed to play his way out of Hakstol’s doghouse. The Flyers could use his skill, but his production doesn’t justify his cap hit on his previous contract. Unless he’s willing to take a pay cut — say half of his $3.2 million cap hit last season — there’s no room for him on the 2016-17 roster. That money can be better spent elsewhere.

Verdict: GO

Hall: Gagner becomes an unrestricted free agent and it seems unlikely he returns. Nothing against the 26-year-old, who had a nice second half of the 2015-16 season, but re-signing Gagner simply doesn’t make much sense for the Flyers.

Verdict: GO

Paone: From the time he arrived in Philadelphia after a draft-day trade from Arizona last summer, it just never seemed like Gagner and his $3.4 million cap hit were in the Flyers’ long-term plans, so much to the point he was waived and sent to the AHL for the first time in his career this season before being called back up. He played well after his call-up and even saw time in a top-six forward role. If anything, Gagner proved he can still play and produce at the NHL level. But it won’t be here in Philadelphia, barring a steep, steep hometown discount.

Verdict: GO

NHL Playoffs: Penguins to start Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 against Lightning – Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia