2022-23 Flyers Player Profile: Sean Couturier

Nov 2, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) against the Arizona Coyotes at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) against the Arizona Coyotes at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

In a previous article, I said that Cam Atkinson was the most important player on the Flyers because of how he can bridge the gap between the players and new coach John Tortorella. While I stand by that claim, the point is that Atkinson will be the most important guy in the locker room.

On the ice, the most important player is going to be Sean Couturier. And if the Flyers are looking to go anywhere in the next few seasons, it’s his back that we are going to be riding on.

Couturier has been this team’s version of Rod Brind’Amour. Brind’Amour was never the best player on the team when he played, but he did all the little things right. He battled in the corners, he could lay down a hit, he could score, he could set up plays, he could play as an offensive forward or a defensive one, and he owned the faceoff circle. Whatever the situation required, he could do.

Now that Claude Giroux is gone, Couturier is the best player on the team. He is the highest paid player at $7,750,000 million a year, which will be the first year of an eight year extension he signed in August of 2021. He’s going to be around a long time. He will turn 29 in December.

However, last year he missed significant time due to injuries. He was hit in the face with a puck. His wrist was slashed by a skate blade. He had a “lower body injury” that cause him to take time off in mid December. By February, he was shut down due to a chronic back issue. He had back surgery and missed the rest of the season. Because of the rash of injuries, he had his worst season in 10 years, scoring only six goals with 11 assists.  He also has had a number of knee injuries in the past.

His value is the fact he can play both ways. He scored 30+ goals in the two seasons before the COVID shutdown. He also was the Selke Trophy Award winner as best defensive forward in 2019-20 and was the runner up two years earlier. The last six seasons, he has won over 50% of his faceoffs. He has only 277 penalty minutes in his 11 year career, so he knows enough to stay out of the penalty box, but he has five shorthanded goals and eight shorthanded assists in his career.

As we all know, the Flyers were ravaged with injuries last season. Couturier’s was among the biggest as he was limited to only 29 games. I’m not saying had he been healthy, the team would’ve made the playoffs. But his absence was definitely felt. Maybe some of those late game collapses that happened way too often would’ve fallen in our favor. It’s hard to replace a Selke Trophy winner with a cavalcade of AHL callups.

What this teams needs is for Couturier to be healthy and get back to form. ANY measure of success this team will have is with him playing at a top level. This doesn’t mean he has to score 30+ goals, but he needs to be out there setting up plays and being able to transition back into the defensive zone.

He is the leader on the ice this team needs. With Giroux gone, this is his team now. With that said, he will most likely be the new captain as he’s worn the “A” on his jersey since Wayne Simmonds departed in February 2019.

Most importantly, again, he needs to stay healthy. He’s going to be 30 this season. He’s signed on for another eight years as the highest paid player on the team. If he is healthy and can play at the level we are used to seeing, he’s worth every dime and penny of that deal. If he can’t play, we are being stung with a big salary cap hit every year as well as missing the player that Couturier is.

Related Story. Flyers Player Profile: Cam Atkinson. light

The Flyers have been fairly quiet on Couturier’s status so far. While they’ve talked about the health of injured defender Ryan Ellis, we are not sure how healthy Couturier is.  If he is healthy, that will go a long way into bouncing this team back. If he can play at the level we usually can expect from him, he will be a major cog in Tortorella’s arsenal and will definitely be one of his guys. Couturier plays all out and gives it his everything, and that is something our new coach demands.

Time will tell. I am optimistic that he will be good for at least 65-70 games. I feel he will rebound with at least 25 goals with 30 assists.