By simply examining Sean Couturier’s play during the first 16 games of the season it may be hard to recognize that he is playing some very good hockey.
I know that it is easy to judge players based on their point totals alone, but attempting to determines a player’s worth this way just doesn’t tell the whole story. I think, more than any other player on this roster, Couturier falls victim to this type of analysis. Considering his performance during his rookie season and playoff series with the Penguins, it is easy to assume that Couturier is not performing up to the expectations that have been placed on him. Sean Couturier is actually a really good player and sometimes we forget, considering his age, how good he is.
As stated, Couturier’s point totals don’t completely tell the whole story of his worth. Couturier is a work horse for this team, and there are numbers and advanced stats to back that up.
On average, at even strength most of his on-ice starts occur in the defensive zone. He leads the team with a 38.4 percent deployment rate in the defensive zone. On top of this, through 16 games his Corsi Rel QoC is 1.367. Basically, what this means is Couturier faces the other team’s best players more than anyone else on the Flyers while on the ice. He is also winning 53.2% of his faceoffs which is the highest on the team through 16 games. Couturier is also logging about 18 minutes of on ice time each game, which is very respectable.
Now, what does this all mean? How does this prove Couturier is actually a really strong player? Well there is one more advanced stat that will put everything into perspective; his Corsi Rel is 1.1. This means that while Couturier is on the ice at even strength the Flyers are directing 1.1 MORE shots at the opposing net per 60 minutes of play.
Putting it all together shows that even though he is facing the toughest competition and the most defensive zone starts, Couturier is able to generate puck possession and offense for the Flyers. This is very impressive considering the tough competition he faces and how many times he starts his shifts in the defensive zone.
It is also important to realize why Couturier was drafted by the Flyers. Sean was selected 8th overall after having put up back-to-back 96 point seasons with his Drummondville junior team. Its obvious that he is a very strong defensive forward, but he was also drafted with the thought that he would have an explosive aspect to his offensive game. This side of his game may not have completely translated to his NHL yet, but I believe it will come. Again, we have to remember that he is only 20 years old and that these things take time to develop. He has a blistering shot, and I believe with the right linemates his offensive game will flourish. Until then, realize that what this team has in Sean Couturier is one of the best young defensive forwards in the game right now with huge offensive potential.
He really is an “untouchable” talent that should be considered a center piece of this team moving forward. He is not simply a player you throw away in a trade. He has the potential to develop into an elite two-way forward. Remember, points aren’t everything, and there are many aspects to a player that must be taken into account to determine worth.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment about what you think Couturier means to the team and his overall value.