• June 10, 2023

Fates Intervention is Sean Couturiers Gain

“First of all, I’d like to say ‘hello’ to all our great fans in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre, at St. John’s Newfoundland, our affiliate in the American Hockey League, and the great fans that have made [it] all the way here to Minneapolis. The Winnipeg Jets are proud to select from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League… Mark Scheifele.”

That was Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of the Winnipeg Jets selecting the first draft pick for the newly reborn franchise, 7th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, in fifteen years.  The selection was met by a smattering of awkward applause and stifled boos, as the fans that “made all the way here to Minneapolis” had no idea who they drafted. Even the broadcasters were shocked, as Scheifele had been ranked as the 15th best North American skater by Central Scouting prior to the draft.

Sean Couturier was ranked 6th.

Couturier, 19, could have been drafted by the Jets, who are currently enjoying their offseason watching the playoffs like the rest of us. Had Scott Howson had a modicum of foresight and negotiating skills, Couturier could have been a Columbus Blue Jacket while Paul Holmgren, for the second straight year, reluctantly watched his counterparts draft in the first round.

In either scenario, he would have likely continued playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Flash forward to 2012, and Couturier has not only wrapped up his first full regular season in the NHL, but he has just accomplished a feat that only four players have done in history against the Pittsburgh Penguins- completed a hat trick in the playoffs (credit to Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for the statistic).

I was skeptical of the Flyers’ decision to keep him on the roster earlier in the year. It required that the Flyers trade prospect Stefan Legein and a 6th round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for “future considerations” just to make room for Couturier on the roster, where he would earn fourth line minutes with the likes of playmakers Zac Rinaldo and Jody Shelley.

Peter Laviolette had other ambitions for Couturier, though, and gave him tough assignments from Day One. When was the last time an NHL coach trusted an eighteen year old in his very first NHL game to kill penalties late in the third period?

That’s Laviolette’s style, though. He famously started rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 1 of the 2010-11 NHL season at the CONSOL Energy Center, in spite of his never playing a minute of North American hockey before the preseason.

Bobrovsky went on to win that game, along with four more in Pittsburgh before finally losing in the last game of the regular season in 2012.

The unabashed faith in all of his players has helped Laviolette, along with the organization as a whole, mold their talents into depth players at the NHL level. Couturier may just be 19, but he has succeeded thus far in the 2012 Stanley Cup Quarterfinal series at mitigating the threat of Art Ross Trophy Winner Evgeni Malkin while earning more points in Game Two.

Let that sink in a little. Bathe in it.

It’s premature to say that Couturier will be a Flyer for life, but there should be no question that, had fate not intervened, his future in the NHL would not be as resplendent as it is at this moment.

Couturier is no longer a “prospect” from juniors. He is a Philadelphia Flyer. Pittsburgh, consider yourself on notice.

Josh Janet

Josh Janet was raised in Northern New Jersey, but by an odd set of circumstances, is a Philadelphia sports fan. While recently converted to the Phillies, Josh is a diehard Flyers fan and can be expected to stay on top of the latest NHL news.

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April 14, 2012 8:20 am

Good article. There was a time when Couturier was rated the #1 overall pick, but he got mono and had didnt have the anticipated jump in numbers in 2011 and his stock dropped a bit. Guess stats don’t mean everything. The “Jeff Carter” gift keeps on givin’. Where are all the “internet analyists” who were posting on this site that the Flyers are one and done come playoff time? Last nite took the Penguins heart.

April 14, 2012 10:03 am

them flyers there are playing some firewagon hockey…any team that wants to go shot for shot is going to lose. what a terrible gm homer is…can’t seem to get anything right

April 14, 2012 2:40 pm

@JJ – I recall too how you thought it best to send Couturier back to juniors, and posted strongly he should not be sent back… because his past 2 years in juniors were already tops, had played in various championship – home and international, so there was no reason to waste his time in the jr league trying to impress some more. In training camp and preseason he was already showing maturity well beyond his tender years. We needed players and there was no need to keep other journeymen/3rd-4th line guys around with all the upside this kid had. I’m surprised his physical strength held up and even seemed to improve as the season progressed.
And apparently Lavy saw much in this kid that he never hesitated to keep Sean up while the deadline to send him down to AHL approached.
I really like Pete Laviolette as coach, perhaps even more than Freddie of the early glory years. Has excellent rapport with both vets and youth!! Simmonds, Read, Voracek, Schenn as well have blossomed under his coaching and trust. Those kids seem to have no problem earning time in Lavy’s system… much more exciting than John Steven’s conservative style!!!

April 15, 2012 2:29 am

Josh, I remember all the points you just made and it made a ton of sense to me. What rookie could be expected to do something like this?!? But I had to say to myself Friday night “How in the hell did 6 other teams pass on this guy!?!?” (RNH was a no-brainer)

April 15, 2012 11:48 am

Great article JJ. I love the kid. It’s a must that he gets an expanded roll, on the top 3 lines next year. It’s time for the Briere era to end, & the Schenn, Couturier, Read, Wellwood, Zolnerchek era to begin. Cleary Briere is gunshy & hasn’t played his normal game, since he was concussed. With his age, his salary, & our cap problems for next year, they have find a way to get him to wave his no trade clause. I have NO problems, with Homer blowing up this DF core like he did with the forwards. We also can bring back Jagr on a team friendly contract, we have trade pieces in VanRiemsdyk, Coburn, & possibly Hartnell (sell while at high worth), & we also have to consider Timonen’s future. Future is bright & deep with this team. Me likey. GO FLYBOYS!!!