The Philadelphia Flyers are heading into the first official season in their rebuild under the direction of Daniel Briere and Keith Jones. Although the club is largely playing to see development from their younger players, the veterans will need to perform well in their auditions for their futures.
The 2022-23 season didn’t go as the Philadelphia Flyers planned, and that’s putting things lightly. A season in which the Flyers finished 26th in the league saw general manager Chuck Fletcher mercifully dismissed from his post. Although it may sound crazy, last season’s results aren’t all Fletcher’s fault.
Make no mistake about it, the Philadelphia Flyers’ roster was left in deplorable condition, and that’s all on Fletcher and Ron Hextall. Even so, the Flyers sorely missed three would-be key contributors who greatly contributed to the team’s failure in 2022. Sean Couturier, the Philadelphia Flyers’ longest tenured player, headlines that group.
Sean Couturier’s last game for the Philadelphia Flyers was on December 18, 2021 – a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center. Couturier had the primary assist on Joel Farabee’s game-tying goal, before Travis Sanheim put a bow on things in the extra frame. Couturier finished the 2021-22 season with only six goals in 29 games whilst shooting 7.6%, his lowest figure since the 2012-13 season. That was Couturier’s age-20 season.
With a December 7 birthday, Sean Couturier will be on the wrong side of 30 once the clock strikes 12 on that day during the 2023-24 season. Although he was reportedly healthy enough to play at the end of the 2022-23 season, Couturier is returning from back surgery, and wasn’t playing particularly well before that either.
Sean Couturier has surpassed 30 goals and 60 points just twice in his career: in 2017-18 and in 2018-19. Couturier was 25 and 26 in those seasons, and since then, hasn’t managed to appear in more than 70 contests in any season after. Couturier’s health is obviously a major concern, and 37 players did better than Couturier’s career-best 76 points in the 2022-23 season. Couturier was never a truly elite player in the National Hockey League, and his injury rap sheet hasn’t helped that.
It remains to be seen whether the extra long layoff from hockey will refresh Sean Couturier or make him rustier. The 2023-24 season will be Couturier’s first crack at proving he can be a top-six center again. Couturier is signed at a $7.75 million cap hit until he’s 37; through the 2029-30 season, and will have a no-movement clause for the next six years. The Philadelphia Flyers will be praying that contract won’t haunt them for years to come.