Flyers: Who will exit when Sean Couturier returns?

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers got good news yesterday on injured center Sean Couturier. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher gave an update on Couturier and his progress towards returning from his injury.

Couturier, who hasn’t played since being injured on January 15th, is quickly approaching his return date. A return date that could come in the next week.

"“Hopefully he’ll be able to come back in the next week,” GM Chuck Fletcher said about an expected return of Couturier. “He skated today. He was shooting the puck today. He’s made really good progress.”"

Fletcher did note that “don’t think he’s quite day-to-day yet, but hopefully in the next 7 to 10 days he could be a player for us. We’ll try to get a better update in the next day or so.”

In Sean Couturier’s absence, the Flyers have used two centers to replace him.

Morgan Frost was the first to get his shot. But, in his second game of the season, Frost would leave with an injury. It was later diagnosed as a dislocated shoulder that GM Chuck Fletcher said yesterday is going to require surgery.

Connor Bunnaman would be the other Flyer to get his shot. Bunnaman, who has been in the lineup every game since the Morgan Frost injury, has proven to be a valuable 4th line center. Something that has caught the eye of head coach Alain Vigneault.

"“They played hard, they played the right way, were in the right position, and they made things happen out there,” head coach Alain Vigneault said about Bunnaman’s line after their 3-1 win over the Devils."

But, that wasn’t the only game Vigneault has made note of his 4th line, centered by Bunnaman, post-game. Going as far to say on multiple nights that Bunnaman’s line “set the tone” and “were big reason why we won”.

However, with Sean Couturier’s return closing in, Vigneault has a decision to make. Keep Connor Bunnaman in the lineup & sit a winger or remove Bunnaman from the lineup & re-insert Scott Laughton to the 4th line center position. A decision that will have to be made pretty quickly.

Who Exits For Sean Couturier

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a hard decision to make when Sean Couturier returns. With the success of his 4th line at the moment, it is hard to break that line up.

The obvious move is Vigneault moving Scott Laughton back to the 4th line center position & inserting Couturier back into his top-6. But, with the recent benching of Travis Konecny, that isn’t set in stone.

Vigneault has proven, with the Konecny benching, that if you are not giving your best effort, you will not play. No matter who or where you are in the lineup.

Therefore, until Couturier actually does return, this decision isn’t as hard as it looks. If a Flyers forward is struggling or not playing up to his liking, Vigneault can remove that player for Couturier.

Possible Sean Couturier Return Date

With GM Chuck Fletcher’s comments yesterday, 7-10 days would put Sean Couturier’s possible return sometime next week. Either Tuesday February 9th, or February 11th.

However, could Sunday’s game vs the Capitals be in reach?

In the past, Couturier has been known to return a bit faster. Couturier returned after missing one-game and played on a torn MCL during the playoffs in 2018.

So, even with the 7-10 day timeframe, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Couturier return as early as Sunday vs Washington.