Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
Nick Cousins was drafted in the third round (68th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft. Right now, he’s probably most known for being the third asset the Columbus Blue Jackets sent the Flyers for Jeff Carter on June 23, 2011. Unlike Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier, Cousins has yet to make his NHL debut.
Cousins was drafted out of the OHL where he was a point per game player as a 17 year old leading up the 2011 draft. He followed up his draft with an age 18 campaign of 88 points (35G 53A) in 65 GP and an outstanding line of 27-76-103 in 64 games in his age 19 season. This is the type of scoring in the OHL that lends potential to top 6 scoring forward in the NHL. Sadly for Cousins, his first AHL season saw him score only 29 points (11G 18A) in 74 games on a weak Phantoms team. This season so far, Cousins has rebounded nicely with 14G 22A 36P in 46 games. Listed at 5’10 169 by HockeyDB, there’s a chance Cousins’s lack of size and strength played a part in his tough adjustment to the AHL from the OHL. That aside, he’s beginning to morph into the player he was advertised as. A scorer who can agitate. Soon, Cousins will hopefully find his way into the NHL lineup, the key is of course, finding out where he would fit best and what his role would be. First, we need to establish scoring equivalencies across leagues.
As we see, the OHL-NHL jump is .30 points per game. For the AHL, the jump for Cousins’s age bracket is .47 points per game.
So, for the OHL, Cousins had a career 1.10 points per game which extrapolates to .33 points per game in the NHL or 27 points per 82.
For the AHL, the Desjardins method looks solely at the prior AHL season, as such, based on the numbers so far this season, Cousins has .7826 points per game in the AHL, which extrapolates to .36 points per game in the NHL or 30 (rounded) points per 82 in the NHL.
As Cousins clocks in at 27-30 points in the NHL, it’s time to find out what role he would fit best in at the NHL level.
Per the research done over at Pension Plan Puppets. 27-30 points is either a poor 3rd line center or a poor 2nd line winger to elite 3rd line winger.
What this means for Cousins is two things. One, his future in the NHL is likely at wing, not center. Two, he projects as a solid middle six forward who would be part of an elite third line or bad second line. Basically; if properly used, Cousins would be a third line on a team loaded with forwards.
If the Flyers can shed one of Umberger or Lecavalier, there’s a spot waiting for Nick Cousins in the lineup on Sean Couturier’s wing. A Raffl/Giroux/Voracek top line, followed by Brayden Schenn/Laughton/Simmonds in a sheltered offensive role with Cousins-Couturier-Read as a third line playing massive two way minutes would be a formidable top nine. Throw in Nicolas Aube-Kubel instead of Read and the Flyers could dangle Read to land an improvement on defense.
A Cousins/Couturier/Aube-Kubel would put three forwards with solid two-way ability together, all of whom are under the age 23 right now. It’s a line that’s talented and cost controlled via the RFA system. The only questions for Cousins is will size hold him back as he moves up.