One of the most exciting times of the year is upon us as we are less than two weeks away from the NHL Entry Draft which takes place beginning Friday June 24th at 6:00 P.M. Eastern time. The Florida Panthers will be drafting in the third position just as they did last season, and we here at the Rat Trick are going to break down some of the possibilities.
Today’s player is 6’4″, 191 lb center Sean Couturier. A Drummondville Voltigeur from the QMJHL, Sean has been in the top five on the draft board for almost a year. Despite dropping from the projected first pick over time, Couturier still possesses elite talent and size for an eighteen year-old.
Offensively, Couturier projects to be a 30/30 center with good size and passing skills. Hockeysfuture.com notes that Sean “uses his body well to protect the puck and make a play,” and that his vision on the ice is his greatest weapon: “[he has] a knack for finding an open teammate and threading a pass across the rink.”
Last year for Drummondville, Couturier demonstrated a goal-scoring touch as well. In 58 games, he scored 36 times and added 60 assists to win the Michel Briere Trophy as league MVP and the Michael Bossy Trophy as the top QMJHL prospect.
He also plays a two-way game, as his instincts for the puck, long reach, and face-off skills put him as a good all around defensive center and possible penalty killer.
Couturier’s athleticism helps his draft stock, too. He has raw speed to couple with his size, with room to fill out into his 6’4″ frame.
Despite Couturier’s many positives, scouts are also quick to point out some of his shortcomings in his game that have appeared over the last year. One of them is his acceleration and stopping ability: he skates fast, but the periods before and after he gets to top speed leave something to be desired. Another negaive is his lack of physical play. His size has not translated into truly any body-checking skills to speak of. Other scouts simply wanted to see more out of Couturier statistically.
Sean might not have helped himself out at all at the NHL Combine. The main underperformance was a paltry fourteen push-ups, good for second-worst among players present. It’s worth noting that the worst, Adam Larsson with twelve, did extremely well in the aerobic testing portion of the Combine. Couturier was strictly average.
Overall projections feature Couturier as a 30 goal, 90 point center with a defensive touch. His game has drawn comparisons to Wayne Primeau, but that might still undercut his potential.
A strong case is made for Couturier by an eager Oilers fan in this article: http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/4/8/2097987/the-case-for-sean-couturier-at-1 ….it’s hard to argue with him.
Realistically for Panther fans, don’t expect to see Couturier in a Panthers hat and red jersey on draft day. His drop in value might not be enormous, but the values of Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Landeskog have risen significantly over time and are more likely than Couturier to be drafted by Florida. Unless, of course, RNH is still available…