In 2011, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren sent star center Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jakub Voracek, a first-round and third-round draft pick.
That first-round pick was used to draft Sean Couturier, who was considered to be one of the best players in that draft; it was surprising that he fell as far as eight. Nick Cousins was drafted in the third.
Couturier has developed into one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL but has not been able to find his offensive game that he had during his time in juniors.
In his final year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Couturier posted a whopping 96 points in 58 games. In the NHL his best offensive output was last season when he scored 11 goals, and 28 assists for 39 points in 63 games.
It was expected that this year Couturier would continue to develop offensively this year, but that didn’t happen.
Couturier scored 14 goals this year but only had 20 helpers for 34 points in 66 games this year. Just like last year, he was hampered by injury and was not able to play a full season.
It would be unfair to judge Couturier just on his offensive game, he is without a doubt the Flyers best defensive forward and was even eighth in selke voting last year.
Couturier consistently gets more defensive zone starts, his line started in the defensive zone 57.2% of the time last year. Despite starting in the defensive zone that often, his Corsi for last year was 54.5% and his Fenwick for was 55.1%.
For those of you that are unaware what Corsi and Fenwick are used to measure the amount of shots taken for and against while a player is on the ice at even strength. Corsi Measure shots, blocks and misses while fenwick only measures shots and misses.
This means that despite starting in the defensive zone 57.2% of the time, when Couturier is on the ice shots go in favor of the Flyers around 55% of the time.
While Couturier’s overall offensive game did not take a jump this year, he did score 17 points in his last 18 games. He ended the year on the third line with Brayden Schenn and Dale Weise, which may have given him better matchups against other teams third lines. The addition of Valtteri Filppula also most definitely helped as his addition was two days before Couturier went on that offensive tear.
Couturier clearly has the offensive skills to be a consistent player for the Flyers and at 24 years of age has become one of the best defensive forwards in all of the NHL. If he can carry over his end of the year play from this year to next year there is a chance that Couturier finally makes the offensive jump that all Flyers fans have been waiting for.
Overall Grade: B
All stats were provided by www.hockeyreference.com