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Couturier Looking to Step Up Offensively


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Last season Philadelphia Flyers rookie Sean Couturier made a name for himself defensively after the way he handled Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin during the first round of the playoffs. The Hart Trophy winner was held to just four even-strength points during the six-game series and teammate Jaromir Jagr took notice of the youngster, comparing him to former Hartford and Carolina great, Ron Francis.

While his defensive-minded skills looked as polished as the Hall of Famer’s, his talent on the offensive side of the puck could have used some work. If the Flyers are going to be successful this year then Couturier will need to continue to find ways to put the puck in the back of the net – and he knows it. After the Flyers’ second official practice on Monday afternoon, Philadelphia Inquirer Flyers beat report Sam Carchidi spoke to Couturier and sent out the following tweet on his Twitter account:

Couturier: “Personally, I think I can bring more offensively” this year. #Flyers

It’s a lot of pressure to place on a 20-year-old who is only in his second year in the NHL but after what we saw at the beginning of last year, he should be able to handle it. He’s done everything in his career with a surprising amount of quickness. Couturier surprised everyone when he earned a roster spot at training camp last season, just months after the Flyers selected him eighth overall – a pick that came from the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade.

Couturier got off to a hot start to the season and was selected to the NHL All-Star Game, becoming one of the youngest participants in league history. It appeared as though Couturier was enjoying the perfect transition from the juniors to the NHL. His strong play was carrying over from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he once led the league in scoring and was also selected as Most Valuable Player, but after the All-Star Game his offensive production dropped off completely.

Couturier managed just three goals and four assists in the 33 games after the break. He went on to finish the regular season with 13 goals and 14 assists in 77 games. Some of the blame could be that he spent most of the year on the fourth line and never really had steady linemates. The team’s roster changed this past summer and with the departures of both Jagr and James van Reimsdyk, the Flyers will rely on Couturier heavily this season, though he will need to play solid on both ends of the ice. His ice time will increase considerably and he will likely start the season centering the Flyers’ third line.

At 6-foot-4 and 191 pounds, there’s no doubt he has the size – but adding some bulk certainly wouldn’t kill him. Couturier has shown that he has the strength to win the one-on-one battles down low but some extra weight would go a long way. His best attribute has to be his on-ice vision, which he needs to better use to his advantage. He always knows exactly where everyone is on the ice at any given time, which can be a huge in the neutral zone, since he can’t rely on his speed like most other players his age. Centering a line with Matt Read and newly-acquired Ruslan Fedotenko could be a perfect fit for Couturier. They could rely heavily on their defensive-minded play and still have the ability to open up the ice on the other end. Read would be an important component, as he would need to pick up where he left off last season and continue to find the back of the net.

No matter who partners Couturier’s line, to expect so much from a 20-year-old in just the second year of his career is very risky business. But from what we’ve seen in his short career, there’s no doubt Couturier is up for it. He’s already got a defensive game that is mature beyond his years, so now it’s time to see if he can regain the scoring touch he had during his junior days. 50 to 60 points this season hardly seems out of the realm of possibility.

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The guy scored 96 points as a 17 yr old in the Q, then as an 18 yr old he scored 96 in only 58 games and a bout of mono. Anybody who knows about mono knows that it can wipe out an entire year. Easily. You never have energy and often takes that long to get any back.

There is a fear that Couturier will get turned into a Selke-winning defensive specialist. I don't think it will happen because he wont settle for that. He will continue to generate chances, score his points, until they have no choice but to play him in all situations. I personally think he will make a very nice PP QB in a few years. He's that smart and sees the ice exceptionally well.

Edited by Podein25
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The guy scored 96 points as a 17 yr old in the Q, then as an 18 yr old he scored 96 in only 58 games and a bout of mono. Anybody who knows about mono knows that it can wipe out an entire year. Easily. You never have energy and often takes that long to get any back.

Thank god for Mono- else Couturier would have been a 3rd or 4th overall pick. There is no way he lasts as a defencive specialist! He is far too smart and skilled at the other end of the ice.

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Thank god for Mono- else Couturier would have been a 3rd or 4th overall pick.

It's true.

Those who told their GMs to draft someone other than Sean should be fired. Biggest example: Wpg. They took Scheifele on the advice of his Jr coach and an ex-Jet (Hawerchuk) - that's a double whammy if you ask me.

The GM there, who I know and like, made a mistake by listening to one voice at the expense of others, including his own gut instinct. If you compare the two players they have very different pedigrees. Hell, Scheifele came up through Jr B! Couturier scored 96 as a 17 year old but is already a future Selke winner in most people's eyes. How could you not draft that?

Edited by Podein25
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If I can get a 20-goal scoring "defensive specialist" I'm all in favor of it.

Depth scoring is the name of the game these days. Teams can shut down one or two lines, but if you have scoring options on the 3/4, you have an advantage.

I think the Flyers have a "3" that's got more than "defense" going for it.

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We only see brief glimpses of it, but I think Sean's release is in the top 5% in all of hockey. The puck just flies off his stick and he's deadly accurate. That tells me he will be a sniper who is defensively responible. You can count guys like in the league with the fingers on both hands, give or take a few....it gives you a BIG leg up on the compition....the guy who is preventing the goal better than anyone is an elite sniper...wow, it's gonna be fun to watch him learn the game totally.

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Those who told their GMs to draft someone other than Sean should be fired. Biggest example: Wpg. They took Scheifele on the advice of his Jr coach and an ex-Jet (Hawerchuk) - that's a double whammy if you ask me.

Yup. Particularly NYI, Ottawa and Winnipeg (5, 6, 7th pick). RNH, Hubreua, and Couturier were tagged as the top centers and also the top picks in the draft (with Larsson sometimes flip flopping with Couturier in early rankings). You can't question NJD for taking Larsson's (though with 20 / 20 hind sight and the departure of Parise- you could perhaps raise an eyebrow slightly). But NYI, Ottawa and Peg to take a flier on Couturier because he had mono for half the season (and still was in the top three in scoring) is absurd.

I think that Couturier is going to be everything we all had hoped Carter would be (sans the tremendous "high and wide" wrist shot). 70 point a year guy that plays all three zones tremendously well. The Jagr comparison to Ron Francis comes to mind. Also a Joe Sakic comes to mind (again sans the blistering wrist shot).

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I think G will always be more dynamic, but the more I watch Coots, the more I see a bigger framed Bryan Trottier.

This is not to bash G, but I think defensively Coturier is better. His stick, positioning and leverage all seem better to me. G is definitely more dynamic offensively in a "forsbergian" sense (to borrow another posters expression). He can wheel and deal in such tight spots like nobody's business. Yet, I do think that Couturier has the smarts to develop the similar on ice vision (3 step ahead) / thinking that G has. Interesting on Trottier. I will have to go look at some video to refresh my memory.

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This is not to bash G, but I think defensively Coturier is better. His stick, positioning and leverage all seem better to me. G is definitely more dynamic offensively in a "forsbergian" sense (to borrow another posters expression). He can wheel and deal in such tight spots like nobody's business. Yet, I do think that Couturier has the smarts to develop the similar on ice vision (3 step ahead) / thinking that G has. Interesting on Trottier. I will have to go look at some video to refresh my memory.

Make sure it's the one with Bellows in it.

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Sean Couturier's status is the reason the Laughton pick, which initially had me upset, is growing on me. Scott supposedly has similar defensive skills to Couturier and it would be great to see him be able to take over that defensive center role, freeing up Couturier to be more offensive-minded. Sean has said he prides himself on his defensive game so we'll never have to worry about him getting one dimensional, but if the Flyers can afford to turn him lose more consistently than last year, and play more minutes, it could be fun to watch. Of course, with the current log jam at center, who's ahead of Couturier on the depth chart might be a bigger factor than who can fill in behind him.

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An interesting Coots stat...in the regular season he struggled in face offs, winning 47% of his draws. When the playoffs started his winning percentage shot up to 53.2%. I betcha he worked so hard at it he just willed himself to become better. Very team orientated that kid, very impressive.

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Thank god for Mono- else Couturier would have been a 3rd or 4th overall pick. There is no way he lasts as a defencive specialist! He is far too smart and skilled at the other end of the ice.

I said at the end of the last year, that *if* he works consistently to improve his game, he is very capable of playing at Datsuyk's level. I know it's a hefty comparison and very high expectations to place on him, but I really think he is capable.

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I said at the end of the last year, that *if* he works consistently to improve his game, he is very capable of playing at Datsuyk's level. I know it's a hefty comparison and very high expectations to place on him, but I really think he is capable.

It is a hefty comparison, but he has all the tools to do it. You summed up my point succinctly in saying he will be better than roo. But in a completely different way. I of course do not have a crystal ball (or else I would not be wrong so often), but I think in 2-3 years time, we will have the best 1-2-3 centers in the league. Schenn is going to be a stud as well, but from a different cloth as G and Coots. The biggest problem is going to be how to get them all enough minutes (Schenn can already willingly play wing).

Everyone ooo's and ahhh's at the Malkin / Crosby tandem, but in 2-3 years, they will be equally - if not more so, ooing and ahhing at the G / Coots tandem. Put 5 - 8 more lbs on Coots and watch out.

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