Voting ballots for the NHL awards had to be submitted Monday by 5 p.m. ET. While it remains undecided for when the finalists and winners will be revealed, a former Flyer wants to see a current Flyer get his due.
In Danny Briere's eyes, Sean Couturier should be the 2019-20 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, an honor given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
“I think he’s the player that deserves it the most in the NHL this season with his play, the way he has led this team in the right direction," Briere said last week on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers Talk podcast. "That’s what’s so great with the Flyers now, Sean can play against any of the top lines around the league, Kevin Hayes can also play against any of the top players around the league, if you need Claude Giroux to play some shifts in the middle, he can also play against any of the best players around the league.
"That’s the strength of the Flyers, but it starts in the middle with Sean Couturier, his overall play, how smart he is, he seems to never make a mistake, he’s always in good position, his stick work is fabulous in the defensive zone and he’s bringing it at the other end of the ice, as well.
"A complete player, he’s a dream for any coach to have on the bench for you."
Head coach Alain Vigneault has experienced that in Year 1 with the Flyers.
"I think because he might not be as flashy or look as spectacular as some of the other guys, maybe people don't notice him as much," Vigneault said in December. "But I can tell you, the people in this room, the people that play with him every day, they notice him."
Couturier, the Flyers' alpha dog center, has spun together another Selke Trophy-caliber season. Among NHL centers, Couturier ranks first in faceoff win percentage (59.6 — minimum of 100 taken), tied for fifth in plus-minus (plus-21) and secondary assists (22), 13th in even-strength points (46), 15th in shots (185), 17th in time on ice per game (19:50), tied for 18th in assists (37), tied for 22nd in goals (22) and tied for 30th in shorthanded minutes (140:29), all while constantly drawing the opposition's toughest assignment.
The Selke Trophy has long been a brand recognition award. Couturier, who was the runner-up in 2017-18, has built his brand.
Among all NHL forwards since 2017-18, Couturier is the only one to rank in the top 10 of even-strength points (166 — tied for ninth) and shorthanded time on ice (480:33 — 10th).
Sean Couturier among NHL centers since 2017-18:— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) June 10, 2020
4th in even strength points (166)
5th in +/- (plus-57)
6th in TOI per game (21:15)
Tied for 6th in faceoff % (56.5)
7th in shorthanded minutes (480:33)
16th in goals (86)
16th in assists (125)
(📷 by Flyers PR guru Zack Hill) pic.twitter.com/zYWYxtts0r
In the Professional Hockey Writers Association's 2019-20 midseason awards, Couturier was the leading vote-getter for the Selke Trophy, finishing ahead of the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (four-time winner) and the Blues' Ryan O’Reilly (last season's winner). Since that time of Jan. 23, Couturier did nothing to hurt his candidacy. Over his team's final 19 games, Couturier had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) and a plus-6 rating as the Flyers went on to finish with the NHL's sixth-most points (89).
This year's honor very well could come down to Couturier and Bergeron, who had 56 points and a plus-23 mark for the league-leading Bruins.
“It’s something I try to take pride into my game — be solid offensively but also defensively, take pride in that side of the game," Couturier said Tuesday to Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill following a workout in Voorhees, New Jersey. "It would definitely mean a lot if I’d win, but just to be mentioned with other guys for that award, it’s already pretty flattering.”
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