Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Sean Couturier is very good at hockey, but he continues to be misunderstood and under-appreciated by too many fans.
The drudgery of the NHL offseason in Philadelphia hit its peak recently as Flyers Twitter devolved into a back and forth concerning the correct evaluation of Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Sean Couturier.
Is Couturier a 2nd line center or a “high-end” 3rd line center?
That question has consumed Flyers Twitter for what seems like an eternity. On one side you have the Church of Couts who will defend him til their last breath. On the other hand, you have the doubters, heathens actually, who insist he’s overrated.
To be frank, it’s a moot point. Any team in the NHL would gladly have Sean Couturier as their regular 2nd or 3rd line center.
But to help understand his many on-ice contributions and hopefully recruit some new fans into the Church of Couts, I went ahead and scraped some data from puckalytics.com. Then, a list of thirty-one 2nd line centers was made using the @domluszczyszyn Game Score depth charts. Finally, I produced some charts to help illustrate how valuable this player is to this team.
Let’s begin with a quick definition of David Johnson’s RelTM statistic.
RelTM (Relative to Team Mates) attempts to account for the 3rd guy on the Toews/Hossa line getting unfairly credited for playing with a pair of superstars. It does this by looking at how each of the players teammates perform with and apart from him and to what extent.
Perhaps the explanation below will make more sense.
When the regular first line RW isn’t playing with the regular first line C and LW it most likely will be the second line RW that is playing with them. So the RelTM stats to some extent tell you how much better/worse are you than the next best/worst player at your position on your team.
The gist of RelTM is that it helps isolate individual talent and contributions.
“But, that’s only one stat,” exclaim the haters. Oh wait, there’s more!
“Well, who cares about these “nerd stats”, they’ll say. “You win games by scoring goals and helping create them.” Oh man, do I have the chart for you!
As you can see above, Sean Couturier trailed only Eric Staal in G/60. Not bad for a guy whose biggest detractors point to this as his biggest failing as a player.
The imposing 6’3 Couturier has the tools to take that final step in scoring 45-50 points at 5v5. He’s a demon on the forecheck and thrives with the puck on his blade when he’s playing from behind the net. His size allows him to create space and keep opposing players away from him when he’s handling the puck.
Defensively he’s still an elite penalty killer and is able to body any opposing player he happens to be on the ice with. Couturier and Simmonds proved to be one of the best penalty killing tandems for the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL last year. We know that due to some great work by Craig Forsythe.
If Sean Couturier compares so well to his 2nd line peers imagine how much better he would look against 3rd line regulars. It’s time to give up all the pissing and moaning about Couts. He’s a solid 2nd line center at 5v5 and an animal on the kill. He deserves your recognition.
On second thought, just trade him. We don’t deserve him.