The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at Sean Couturier.
You can’t say enough great things about Couturier — seriously, we could break down his style of play into a multi-part series and everyone would rave about the player that No. 14 has become. To be a top-line center in the league deserves praise in itself, but to also be looked at as a favorite to take home the Selke Trophy is just the cherry on top.
He is the glue of the Flyers and helps bridge the gap from the youth of the team to veterans, and has done it all as a leader. He rightfully earned the “A” permanently stitched to his sweater in 2019-20 (he wore it for home games the previous season) and chances are, it’s going to reside there during the remainder of his career in Philadelphia.
Seriously, have you looked at his contract recently? It could very well be the best one in the league when it comes to outperforming it.
Couturier found himself by the top of just about every stat, being third on the team in goals (22), second in assists (37), second in points (59) and leading the way in faceoffs at an impressive 59.63 percent. While his projection for the complete season (70 points — 26 goals, 44 assists) would fall below his numbers of his previous two, they fail to showcase the significant growth of his 200-foot game and level of aggression every time he hits the ice.
I don’t care if it’s corny, I’m giving Couturier an A++ and a certificate for “Best Flyer of the season.” I’ll also be prepping a certificate for “Selke winner” — though, he might just prefer the trophy. Understandable.
This team wouldn’t have had the success it did in the regular season without Couturier.
Couturier is arguably the most consistent Flyer. The past few seasons, he’s continued to progress with the orange and black and this year, it only got better. His 200-foot style, his ability to play against any of the league’s top-tier players, his talents in the faceoff dot and simply his skill with the puck continues to be one of the best in the league.
This season, Couturier fell just 17 points of his career best and while those final 13 games would have helped narrow that margin, he still recorded his second-best plus/minus of his career in the regular season with a plus-21. The way he can make anyone who plays on a line with him get their production going is something to admire.
Away from that, one of the biggest ways he stepped up was in the tough times — after a loss. Couturier recorded 14 goals and 20 assists in games following a loss this season. That kind of response out of No. 14 was crucial for the orange and black.
This might be the easiest grade I’ve ever had to give. Couturier is an A+ with potential to make it an A++ if and when the season resumes.
I would like to name Couturier valedictorian of the 2019-20 Flyers season for obvious reasons. The man is an absolute workhorse. We talk about his defensive game all the time, but the way he’s developed into a consistent producer for this team goes so far beyond just his own numbers this season. He is the remedy for players in a slump, and a player that also complements stars playing at the highest level.
He’s at the forefront of the Selke Trophy conversation with Patrice Bergeron for a reason, and a lead-by-example kind of guy. He’s one of the forces that has prevented the Flyers from being a team that falls into long losing skids (an issue that has plagued them in recent history). Of his 59 points this season, 34 of them came in games following a Flyers loss. He handles defensive duties against the best players in the league with apparent ease, while making everyone around him look better offensively.
A's across the board.
The list of best two-way centers in the NHL starts with Couturier and Bergeron of the Bruins in no particular order. However, Couturier’s biggest value this season was how he made other players better. If a player is struggling, put them with Couturier, and they’re sure to find their way.
Two things stand out about Couturier’s game this season. First off, he got better as the season went along, and whenever the Flyers needed a pick me up, No. 14 was there. Secondly, to have that much impact on the offensive end while on a nightly basis having to deal with the opponent’s top forward is something few players in the league are capable of.
A+ with a star and smiley face for Couturier.
We don’t have to check Couturier’s math. This is an easy grade.
You’d be hard-pressed to find areas in which Couturier should have done more or needed to be better.
With five points and a minus-7 mark through the first 10 games, maybe he could have gotten off to a better start? Even that’s nitpicking.
Couturier factors into everything, he went scoreless in consecutive games only six times and he’s got a bona-fide chance at the Selke Trophy.
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