Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.
The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP.
This one seems like a given but I’m always more than willing to state my case for why I think Sean Couturier deserves this kind of recognition.
If he wins, this will be the second straight season he will receive the Bobby Clarke Trophy. Like last season, he is second on the team in points but absolutely the most valuable asset for the Flyers.
No one else on the team is able to drive play as effectively as Couturier — and that comes down to his abilities on both ends of the ice, his aggressive front when it comes to forechecking, how he sees the game five steps ahead of everyone else and his overall elite skill as one of the top centers in the league.
That doesn’t even cover his level of leadership within the locker room. A well-respected player no matter how you look at things. If there are any negatives to Couturier, it’s that we aren’t able to clone him and his contract.
The Flyers’ most valuable player at the end of this season is Couturier.
Since he was a Selke finalist in 2017-18, Couturier has been one of the most consistent players for the orange and black ... this season especially.
Let’s look at his stats shall we?
Among team leaders through 69 games:
• Goals — 22 (third)
• Assists — 37 (tied for second)
• Points — 59 (second)
• Faceoff percentage — 59.7 (first)
• Plus/minus — plus-21 (first)
Couturier is well-known for his strong 200-foot abilities, among many other things, but above it all, I have to argue one of the reasons he’s so valuable is how he can make everyone around him look good.
I think a lot of that is proven by his plus-21 rating. Whenever Couturier is on the ice, usually something good happens.
Earlier in the season, Alain Vigneault moved players that were struggling to get their offense going to a line with Couturier for that reason. Players like Jakub Voracek who needed to improve, did, I believe because of Couturier.
His value goes beyond the score sheet. He’s been a key to the Flyers’ success this season.
This is a no-brainer for me. As it stands now, Couturier should win the Bobby Clarke Trophy.
Sure, he’s second on the team in points and third in goals with the best plus-minus at plus-21. And, if I had a dollar for every time we talked about the strength of his 200-foot game when it comes to Coots, I’d be sitting on a small fortune right now. But his value goes so far beyond that.
Throughout this season, we’ve literally watched Vigneault move players who are struggling to Couturier’s line because “anyone who plays with Coots seems to get going,” as A.V. has told us in multiple interviews.
On top of his ability to act as a catalyst for guys to turn it around, he’s also the team’s go-to guy when it comes to containing the opposition's top line. In the broadcasters’ pregame meetings with the coaching staff, whenever there’s a question of “how do you try to slow this guy down?” the answer is nearly always, “We’ll try to get Coots matched up with him out there as much as possible.”
The man is a (French Canadian) Swiss army knife, with zero ego to boot.
Couturier is the clear front-runner, but how about Travis Konecny? He's not just a dark-horse candidate — he should be right there in consideration.
Where would the Flyers be without his signifcant jump in production? At only 22 years old (he recently turned 23), Konecny faced all forms of pressure to make that jump.
He signed a new six-year, $33 million deal before the season. The Flyers were coming off a letdown 2018-19 campaign and desperately needed their young foundation pieces to make big strides in 2019-20. With fellow youngster and first-round pick Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) out before training camp had started followed by the absence of Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis) in mid-December, even greater focus was on Konecny to answer the bell.
Suffice it to say he has delivered.
Konecny leads the Flyers with 24 goals and 61 points through 66 games, while his 37 assists are a career high and he's one marker away from a new personal best.
A glimpse of his growth: Konecny has six three-point performances this season after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.
A glimpse of his importance: the Flyers are 31-9-2 when he records at least a point and 10-9-5 when he has gone scoreless.
Konecny has been the Flyers' energizer bunny and most consistent scorer in a season with all eyes on him.
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