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Ex-Flyer Nick Cousins Has Chance To Win Stanley Cup With Panthers

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Nick Cousins (Photo courtesy of Florida Panthers)
Nick Cousins celebrates winning goal against Maple Leafs.

Nick Cousins once was described as the Flyers’ top prospect in 2012, a year after he was drafted.

He looked like an All-Star on May 12 for the Florida Panthers. The center made a gorgeous puck-drag move and snapped in an overtime goal to beat the Maple Leafs in Game 5 and to close out their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

In 79 games, Cousins had nine goals and 18 assists. But in this magical Panthers postseason, of course Cousins looked like Bill Barber in beating Leafs goalie Joseph Woll on his stick side.

The Panthers begin the Stanley Cup finals Saturday at Vegas, two teams looking for their first championship.

“He plays in a fourth-line role, he is a gritty player and he plays hard,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice told reporters.

“If there is a scrum, he might be the guy that’s in the middle of it all the time but what makes him unique is that he has a really good set of hands.

“For a guy in that role, it’s usually a penalty-killing or a grinding role but he has a good set of hands, good vision and he doesn’t mind hanging onto the puck a little bit.

“He can make a play, he can pop up in your lineup and play with players like [Sam] Bennett and [Matthew] Tkachuk and have enough hands there to make that play.”

Moving On From Philly

Cousins, 29, never turned into a big-time player in Philadelphia. He made the Flyers in the 2014-15 season, playing 11 games. Cousins played 36 games the next season and 60 games in 2016-17.

He was drafted in the third round, 68th overall. He played 107 games and had 12 goals and 15 assists. He primarily was a checker, not a scoring threat.

In June 2017, the Flyers traded Cousins to Arizona with goalie prospect Merrick Madsen for a fifth-round pick and prospect Brendan Warren. There was a chance the Golden Knights might have selected Cousins in the expansion draft.

Cousins never turned into a big-time player anywhere else in the league. After leaving Philadelphia, Cousins played for Arizona, Montreal, Vegas, Nashville and Florida. This is his first season with the Panthers (9 goals, 18 assists). In his nine seasons, he has 64 goals and 101 assists in 523 games.

And what a season. The Panthers have won 11 of 12 playoff games behind Tkachuk, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and a balanced attack, including Cousins. They shocked the NHL’s best team, Boston, in seven games. Then eliminated Toronto in five, and Carolina in four. Bobrovsky, back-up goalie Alex Lyon and defenseman Radko Gudas also are former Flyers on the Panthers.

“He is one of those guys you love to have on your team,” Panthers captain Sasha Barkov told Florida Hockey Now.

“He’s joking around and keeping things loose and then when it’s game time, he is dialed in and he is not afraid to make those plays.”

And now, four victories away from winning a Stanley Cup. Game 7 would be June 19, the day before Cousins’ 30th birthday.

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Around The National Hockey Network:

Florida Hockey Now: The Panthers helped build the Golden Knights, their Stanley Cup finals opponent, in expansion draft.

Vegas Hockey Now: Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy says he’s learned from 2019 finals loss.

Boston Hockey Now: Former Bruins winger Milan Lucic unsure of his NHL future.

New Jersey Hockey Now: James Nichols is the new beat writer for National Hockey Network’s newest site.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins should give GM candidate Kyle Dubas a deadline to decide if he wants the job.

Detroit Hockey Now: Former Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek packs memorabilia into shopping carts as Czechia Hockey Hall of Fame closes.

Colorado Hockey Now: The best and worst drafts in Avalanche history.

Calgary Hockey Now: The list of candidates for Flames head-coaching job shrinks.

Stanley Cup Finals:

Game 1: Panthers at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. Saturday, TNT

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