2023-24 Player Spotlight: Sean Couturier

With the 2023-24 NHL Regular season bearing down on us. The Flyers will open the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 12th in Columbus. We here at EOP will spotlight a Flyers player every week. This week we will look at Sean Couturier.

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How It Began

There was a time in Flyer’s land where the future looked very bright. Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek were the faces of the team.  Wayne Simmons, and Scott Hartnell were the backbone and muscle of the franchise. Then there was Sean Couturier, Couturier who was selected by the Flyers 8th overall in the 2011 NHL draft. He was a podium to the NHL prospect for the Flyers.

The son of former Los Angeles Kings center Sylvain Couturier. Though Couturier was a big scorer in junior hockey, he quickly established himself as one of the NHL’s best defensive centers, earning votes in his rookie season for the Selke Trophy, given to the League’s top defensive forward. Couturier also was ninth in voting for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.    

Through his first six NHL seasons, Couturier was most often entrusted with shutting down the opposition’s top scorers and killing penalties. He saw little power-play time, scoring just three man-advantage goals. But that all changed in 2017-18. Given a chance by coach Dave Hakstol to center a more offense-minded line, Couturier broke out with 76 points (31 goals, 45 assists) in 82 games, helping the Flyers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Though Philadelphia lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round, Couturier had nine points (five goals, four assists) in five games, including a five-point performance (three goals, two assists) in Game 6. He scored 76 points (33 goals, 43 assists) in 2018-19 and 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) in 2019-20.

Couturier was seen as the next generation and the successor to Flyers captain and leader Claude Giroux.  Couturier incurred several minor injuries through the first half of the 2012-22 season: he was hit in the face with a puck on December 5 while the Flyers faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, and five days later, he required stitches on his wrist after being cut with a skate blade during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Injuries

 On December 31, general manager Chuck Fletcher moved Couturier to the injured reserve with an upper-body injury. On February 11, 2022, the Flyers announced that Couturier had undergone back surgery and that he would miss the remainder of the 2021–22 season. Fletcher told reporters that Couturier’s back had started to bother him towards the beginning of the season and those nonsurgical options had not resolved the issue.

At the time of the announcement, Couturier had scored six goals and 17 points in 29 games for Philadelphia. Couturier sat out the entire 2022–23 season because of his back surgery. Entering the 2023-24 season Courtier and the Flyers fortunes have both changed dramatically since he was drafted.  Once viewed as the heir apparent to the foundations of Giroux and Voracek and the obvious choice of captain. Couturier now finds himself facing the unknown of a new coach and new direction of the rebuilding Flyers.

Entering this season, a healthy Sean Couturier is going to be looked for to provide offense, stability, a face, and mentorship to the team’s many young players. A lot to ask of a player who has not seen any considerable playing time in about two seasons. He will most certainly anchor the team’s top line and be the focus of the opposing team’s game plans.

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The Future

Where does he fit in the future of the Flyers? The same as any of the veterans on this team. Provide as much on and off the ice as possible be the veteran and the leader and when the time comes provide the organization as much as possible in a trade. Not exactly what was once envisioned when he was selected with the 8th overall pick back in 2011.

The C for captain was once synonymous with Couturier now the C is I fear will be synonymous with C you later Sean.   

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.