The love affair Philadelphia Flyers fans have with Sean Couturier is understandable. No one has seen a tooth gap quite as stunning as his since the days of Bobby Clarke. He also sports the greatest beard of any current player under the age of 24 in the NHL.
While these characteristics could endear even the most useless player to the fans of this blue-collar city, he is anything but useless.
Sean Couturier, otherwise known as Coots to those who would swear at their own grandmother to be his best friend, might be the best defensive player the Flyers have had in years.
He’s a minute’s eater on the penalty killing unit, has made Sidney Crosby look human in the playoffs, and is regularly tasked with skating against the opposing team’s best players.
Sean Couturier is basically the hockey player version of a Swiss army knife. He does everything asked of him and does it extremely well.
Don’t believe me?
Out of nine qualifying forwards that played at least 200 minutes shorthanded this past season, Coots ranked 1st in time on-ice. If you were to exclude Jay McClement from the table below, Sean Couturier would have placed himself 31:78 minutes ahead of Drew Miller.
That’s sixteen 2-minute power plays or eight double minors.
Sean Couturier Loves Him Some PK
TOI (Time On-Ice)
4 on 5 SH Points
In addition to tying his penalty killing sidekick Matt Read for shorthanded points last year among forwards on the table below, he placed 2nd in even-strength points.
That’s an impressive feat considering Sean’s offensive zone start percentage was only 42.6%. That ranks him 298 out of 349 forwards who had played in at least 50 games last season.
Daniel Carcillo actually had a higher offensive zone start percentage. Yeah, MIND BLOWN.
Knowing all these stats now, how do you want Craig Berube to use Sean in the upcoming season?
For those of you that don’t know, Sean Couturier was quite an offensive force coming out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 96 points in his last two years playing for the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Ron Hextall, in an interview with BroadStreetHockey.com, was quoted as saying, “We do expect more from him offensively this year probably than we have in the past. There’s still quite a bit of offensive upside there.”
I hope Hextall is right. Elite defensive players like Coots seem to go unappreciated because it’s a lot harder to quantify the effects he is having on the game. Hopefully the offense comes in time, he is only 21 years old after all.
Unfortunately for Sean Couturier however, Craig Berube may once again have to sacrifice offensive production from his young forward after news came this offseason that Kimmo Timonen is out indefinitely with blood cots.
So, now I’ll toss up the question to you folks.
Do you want to see Sean Couturier be put into more situations where he can help generate offense or do you want him to continue in his current role as the Philadelphia Flyers shutdown center?