There’s no denying that this is another lost season for the Flyers. They are eight points out of the wild card and should be sellers at this coming deadline. James van Riemsdyk is their biggest asset and has been drawing interest from a few teams. The Flyers have numerous pending free agents like Justin Braun, Patrick Brown, and Zack MacEwen that they could sell off for draft assets.
And after the deadline, it will be important to see what they have in the pipeline. This team should be all in on determining players that they can use next season. And that includes someone like Sean Couturier.
Couturier has missed almost two years of hockey action after two back surgeries. He has been seen skating at different points throughout the season, most recently on Thursday morning. He skated laps around the ice and took some shots as well.
There have been varying updates throughout the season, but one this has been a consistent. The Flyers do expect Couturier to return before the end of the season. And that is a good thing. Many will say that there is no reason for him to come back at all this year. And they make a fair point. Why risk anything at a point in the season that means nothing?
Both Couturier and the Flyers need to know if he can return to play after his back injury. His eight-year contract kicked in this year. With a deal keeping him in Philadelphia until 2029-30 season, everyone needs to see what his future looks like. Not to mention he has a full NMC until the final year of his deal in which it becomes a modified clause with a 10-team trade list.
That’s not the only reason, however. Couturier simply needs to play after almost two years away from the game. He’s been seen around the team throughout the season, but being around and playing are much different things. Players talk about the mental toll injuries take on them. Ryan Ellis spoke of such at the end of last season. You don’t feel like a part of the team when you can’t help them on the ice.
It needs to be said, though, that no one should put any expectations on what Couturier may look like if he does return this season. He is arguably the team’s best player when healthy. But there is going to be an enormous amount of rust to knock off. It’s important to get him playing, even if it’s only for a few games at the end of the season.
It will not only show that he can still play, it will almost definitely be a confidence boost for Couturier. He’s someone who plays through a lot of different things. He tried to do that before eventually being shut down in December last year. And remember when he scored a hat trick in the playoffs with a torn MCL?
Like most hockey players, Couturier is a competitor and will do whatever it takes to help his team. So he will want to come back and play if the situation arises. And the Flyers should be more than happy to see him do that this season.