One thing that gets repeatedly brought up is the Flyers continued impatience with young players as they often trade them away before they fully develop. Two prime examples people love to use are Patrick Sharp and Sergei Bobrovsky.
General manager Paul Holmgren seemed determined not to let something like that happen with two of his prized prospects in Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. Both players showed tremendous promise in 2011-12 but stumbled a bit in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Now in their third season in the NHL, both players should be making strides towards their potential. Schenn, 22, has been playing some of the best hockey of anyone not named Mason for the Flyers. He is tied with Vinny Lecavalier and Claude Giroux for the team-lead in points with seven (three goals and four assists). He is progressing as a two-way forward and has taken his toughness to another level this year. Fans are finally getting a glimpse of what they can come to (hopefully) expect from him moving forward.
Couturier? I hope the jury is still out on him. He burst onto the scene in 2011-12 with 13 goals and 14 assists in 77 games with the Flyers and quickly established himself as one of the best defensive forwards in all of hockey. In 46 games for the Flyers last season, he only netted four goals and had 11 assists - talk about not producing at the offensive end. This season is more of the same as Couturier hasn't found the back of the net and only has three total points. Now, it should be noted that most Flyers have struggled offensively this season.
But what is particularly concerning is Couturier's lack of offensive production which is dating back over a year and a half at this point. He was touted as one of the best players in the 2011 draft because he could impact the game at both ends of the ice.
Haven't seen too much offense from him at the NHL level.
His track record at other levels says he possesses the ability as he put together back-to-back 96 point seasons for the Drummondville Voltiguers of the QMJHL taking home the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league's top professional prospect and the Michel Briere Trophy as the league MVP - some past winners of these trophies are Sidney Crosby, Vinny Lecavalier, and Roberto Luongo among others.
Even with the Phantoms last season before the NHL returned from the lockout, Couturier seemed to have a clue in the offensive zone scoring 10 goals and dishing out 18 assists for 28 points in 31 games. The question is: where is the guy who can score?
Granted, Couturier doesn't even turn 21 until December so the criticism might be a bit premature and I get that. The problem facing Couturier is the cushion he built up over the rest of his draft class by getting to the NHL so quickly is rapidly diminishing.
Couturier was the eighth overall pick in 2011, a pick most people liked because he was a top-prospect but fell due to health concerns over a bout with mono. However, some were critical of the Flyers for not drafting a potential franchise defenseman who was available - Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton went ninth overall to the Boston Bruins and now enters his second year in the NHL.
In 42 games for Boston last season, Hamilton scored five goals and added 11 assists for 16 points from the blue line. If you're keeping track at home that is one more goal and one more point than Couturier in four fewer games. As for this season? Hamilton has three goals and two assists in 12 games. The 6'5", 200 lbs. defenseman appears to be evolving into a real weapon for the Bruins on their blue line.
Couturier? Right now he's stagnant on the Flyers third line with questions beginning to arise about whether he is a top-six forward or just a future defensive-minded forward. These questions should've been asked and answered by the Flyers front office and scouting department because Couturier's stock was sky-high around the league less than a year ago. If they were going to sell on Couturier, it should've happened already.
Therefore, the Flyers must get this Couturier thing correct or else it could be Paul Holmgren who is sent packing.
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