Philadelphia Flyers Final Player Grades: Sean Couturier

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With the 2019-20 NHL regular season likely over, we can fully evaluate individual players from the Philadelphia Flyers. This time we look at Sean Couturier.

It was a safe assertion heading into this Philadelphia Flyers season that goaltender Carter Hart had to be the team MVP for the Orange and Black to have any kind of shot at a productive season. But while Hart was reasonably solid in his first “full” year as an NHL netminder, there can be no doubt that the most important player on this time by a wide margin was (and is currently, whenever play resumes) Sean Couturier.

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We all knew what Coots meant to this club, having posted consecutive excellent offensive seasons to go along with his relentless defensive play. But this year, even though his scoring rate dipped slightly, he was more valuable than ever to the Flyers.

His acumen in the faceoff circle was just one area where he showed his worth, as a 59.6% success rate was the best in the league, narrowly beating out teammate (and sometimes linemate) Claude Giroux. And this is despite the fact that Couturier dealt with a shoulder injury earlier in the season that caused him to stop taking draws for a time. But that health concern had no long-term effect on his performance, as he would go on to play in all 69 games for the team this year.

And Couturier played some hard minutes against tough competition essentially every night, his 19:50 of ice time per game ranking 12th among forwards in the NHL who appeared in at least 50 games this year. After him, Giroux was second among Flyer forwards at 18:59 per game, with a big dropoff after that. Alain Vigneault did an excellent job of rolling lines this year to keep players fresh, but Couturier was clearly the exception to that. He was leaned on hard, and he proved that he was up to the task.

Thanks to his fine work, Couturier was the consensus pick for the Selke Trophy by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) when they gave out their midseason awards back in January. He was clearly on pace for some hardware, and Couturier did nothing but strengthen his case in the weeks after that before this abrupt halt to the season. As a result, there’s absolutely no way that he should walk away empty-handed like he did the first time he was nominated for the award two years ago. It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle awards, as they’ve postponed their annual show, among other events. But maybe that’s a good thing, who knows. Either way, give this man the trophy.

Sean Couturier was the steady force that drove this season, the Flyers’ clear MVP, and it would be a great injustice if we aren’t able to see what he could help them to accomplish in the playoffs. But at just 27 years old, he presumably still has a lot more time to keep building his reputation as one of the league’s most complete players.

A. <strong>On any given night this season, Couturier’s line was the Flyers’ best, no matter who he found himself playing with. He did it all, with very few games where he wasn’t able to impose his will on even the best competition that the league had to offer. As such, he has earned every bit of his grade as he continues to be one of the best values in the league at $4.33M for each of the next two years.</strong>. C. Philadelphia Flyers. SEAN COUTURIER

Next. Flyers Grades: Justin Braun. dark