BY ROLAND ALONZI – Ron Hextall entered the offseason with a number of different goals, among them resigning D Michael Del Zotto to a new deal, and signing RW Jakub Voracek, C Sean Couturier and C Braden Schenn to extensions.
Two down, two to go.
The Flyers have signed C Sean Couturier to a six year contract extension, which starts in the 2016-17 season. The deal carries an average annual value (AAV) of $4.33 million. The contract pays the 22 year-old Couturier $3.75M in 2016-17, $4M in 2017-18, $4.25M in 2018-19, $4.5M in 2019-20, $4.75M in 2020-21 and $4.75M 2021-22.
The knock on Couturier is that he is not scoring enough at the pro level. Here is Couturier’s offensive production breakdown in the pros thus far.
- 2011-12: 77 GP/13G/14A/27P
- 2012-13: 46 GP/4G/11A/15P *
- 2013-14: 82 GP/13G/26A/39P
- 2014-15: 82 GP/15G/22A/37P
* Lockout Shortened Season of 46 Games
At first glance, these are not impressive numbers for a player chosen with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 entry draft. Recall that Couturier put up back-to-back 96-point seasons in QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. After 300 games, you get a sense for where a player is in terms of offensive production. Couturier is at 287 games played, even at 22 years old.
However, offensive stats do not tell the whole story with Couturier.
He is becoming one of the top defensive shutdown forwards in the league. If his offensive game can hit a different level, and he can be counted on to score 50 points a year, this contract will be more than justified. Remember, Berube didn’t put Couturier in positions to contribute offensively on a night in, night out basis last season. If given the opportunity, he can hit that 50 point plateau and become a true two way forward in the mold of Milan Lucic.
Last season, Couturier started nearly 40 percent (38.7 percent) of faceoffs in the defensive zone. Compare that with just over a quarter of faceoffs (25.5 percent) in the offensive zone and 35.7 percent of faceoffs in the neutral zone, you get a better picture of how Couturier’s deployment (by Berube) worked against him. He also played last season on a line with Matt Read and the abysmal R.J. Umberger.
He is certainly rugged and dependable. Couturier played all 82 games in 2013-14 and 2014-15. He played 77 games in his rookie season and 46 GP in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. Couturier played with the then Adirondack Phantoms during the lockout, putting up 28 points in 31 games (10 goals, 18 assists).
With Dave Hakstol looking to implement a system focused on two way forwards and puck moving defensemen, and Couturier being given opportunities to excel in the offensive zone, there’s a chance we can see a 50 point season for him this season.