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Flyers call up forward Nick Cousins

OTTAWA — With forward R.J. Umberger done for the year and little left to lose, the Flyers may at least get a peek at one of their top forward prospects at the NHL level.

The Flyers recalled forward Nick Cousins from the Phantoms late Saturday night.

Cousins, 21, jumped to 5th in AHL scoring with another two points on Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn. He leads the Phantoms with 55 points in 60 games - already matching the second-best offensive output for any Flyers minor leager in the last five seasons.

Cousins will be eligible to make his NHL debut on Sunday night in Ottawa for the Flyers. He will wear jersey No. 52.

No player in the AHL has been hotter than Cousins since Jan. 2, almost forcing the Flyers to take a look at him. The Sault Ste. Marie product collected just 17 points in the first 31 games of the year through Dec. 31. Since then, he's netted 38 points (including 14 goals) in just 29 games.

Cousins posted 17 points in 13 January games, 14 in 10 February dates and another 7 so far in 4 games in March, allowing him to slowly climb the AHL leaderboard. In perspective: he has 9 more points in the first two and a half months of 2015 than he did in all 74 games last year in his rookie professional season.

Cousins is a crafty, 5-foot-10 center best known for his agitation factor. He has the unique ability to dig under the opponent's skin in a game. The Belleville, Ont., native - closer than a 3-hour drive to Ottawa - has needed to learn the defensive side of the game in the AHL, the Flyers' primary concern.

The Flyers' 3rd round pick (68th overall) in 2011 could always score. With the OHL's Greyhounds in 2011-12, Cousins finished 3rd in league scoring with 103 points and matured a bit under new coach Sheldon Keefe. He finished his junior career with 291 points in 264 games over four seasons.

Where Cousins fits in the Flyers' lineup will be up to Craig Berube. It will be interesting to see if Cousins will be asked to play wing to make his debut - since the Flyers have a bevy of centers available, including two (Brayden Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier) who are already playing out of their natural position.

Twitter | @frank_seravalli