Flyers pick center Sean Couturier

Posted: June 24, 2011

Sean Couturier had been a Flyer for less than five minutes before he was dubbed the heir to one of the gaping holes at center left by Thursday's trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Couturier put on the bright orange sweater and Flyers hat and posed for a picture, with one arm wrapped around the man who traded away the two players who no longer blocked his potential swift rise to the NHL.

"Philadelphia started this yesterday with the trading of Carter and Richards [and] they just found a replacement for one of them," a TSN announcer boomed soon after Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced he was picking the sliding Couturier.

At one point earlier this season, Couturier was considered to be a candidate to be the top pick in the draft, along with defenseman Adam Larsson, who ended up going fourth. The Flyers were able to snag the 6-foot-3 1/2, nearly 200-pound Couturier at the No. 8 pick they got in the Carter trade a day earlier.

"This guy's going to be one of those players that everyone's going to say, how did he slip?" another analyst gushed as text at the lower right of the screen said the newest Flyer compared to Jordan Staal.

"We're similar in some ways," Couturier says.

Couturier explained that he suffered from mononucleosis last year, and that may have slowed him down this past season, hurting his fitness and dropping his draft stock. He was on the Flyers radar as soon as they got the No. 8 pick as Couturier's first meeting with the team came on the eve of the draft.

The first question posed to Holmgren after the pick was whether he thought Couturier would be there at No. 8: "No, no we didn't," Holmgren said.

The very next question was about Carter and Richards. The moves are still at the forefront of anything the Flyers do as a franchise.

"I was actually pretty surprised, didn't really expect it," Couturier said of the trades. "After thinking about it, I knew I could be drafted there."

The left-handed center has good size. He was named the MVP of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season as he starred for Drummondville, scoring 96 points on 30 goals and 66 assists. The prior season, Couturier also tallied 96 points (41, 55) in the QMJHL, leading the league in scoring at the ripe age of 17. The last 17-year old to lead the league in scoring was Sidney Crosby.

Known as a two-way player who is willing to do the dirty work in the defensive zone, Couturier may be most proud of his plus-55 and plus-62 ratings the last two seasons in the QMMJHL.

"I think Sean is a player who does a good job in his own zone for the number of points that he puts up in the Quebec league," Holmgren said.

Couturier described his own game: "I'm pretty reliable defensively, and offensively I'm pretty good at protecting and controlling the puck."

Now with the 18-year old Couturier and the 19-year-old Brayden Schenn, who joined the Flyers in the Richards deal, at center, Holmgren has two young players who will get a shot to make the team in training camp. They actually played together on team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championships.

"I think with both of these young men we're going to be patient," Holmgren said. "We believe [Schenn is] ready, but again, those players, ultimately, answer the questions [if they are ready]."

Hockey is in Couturier's blood as his father, Sylvain, was a career minor-leaguer after being selected No. 65 overall in 1986 by the Los Angeles Kings. A center and left winger, Sylvain played 33 games for the Kings over the course of his career.

His son is now a Flyer, with his sights on taking full advantage of that newfound hole left by Carter and Richards.

"My main goal is to make the NHL next year," Couturier said. "Once I get to camp I'll be prepared.


Contact staff writer Tim Rohan

at trohan@philly.com or 215-854-4550.

 

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