Is Philadelphia Flyers Center Sean Couturier the next great Selke winner?

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When you look at past Selke Trophy winners you see one thing. Repeat winners. Over the history of the Selke Trophy, 40 seasons, there have been 8 multiple year winners.

The most wins coming from two guys, Bob Gainey & Patrice Bergeron. Gainey & Bergeron are tied for the lead with most Selke Trophies at 4. However, Bergeron has the ability to pass Gainey with his next Selke Trophy.

But, will he ever get his 5th?

That is a question Bergeron hopes he can say yes too. However, he has some good competition to face now. Insert Flyers young 25-year-old center Sean Couturier.

Sean Couturier has been one of the leagues best defensive centers over his 7-year NHL career. During his career, Couturier averages just under 18 minutes per game. However, if you take out his rookie season, 14:07 average, Couturier’s numbers rise close to the 20 minute mark.

But why has Couturier never been considered for the Selke?

Well, Sean Couturier has been missing one thing from his Selke bids, scoring. Up until this season, Couturier only averaged 11 goals and 20 assists a season. Good numbers for a defensive 3rd line center. However, during those 6 seasons, the winners of the Selke Trophy averaged 24 goals and 35 assists.

Fast forward to this season, Sean Couturier has the scoring to go along with the already great all around game. Couturier, this season, is averaging 21:33 ice time to go along with 27 goals and 24 assists.

In years past, the best season Sean Couturier had was 2015-2016 where he scored 11 goals and 28 assists in 63 games. So, what happened to Couturier? Where did all this scoring come from?

Well, it is because of two reasons.

First, Sean Couturier finished last season on a tear. In his final 18 games, Couturier scored 5 goals and 12 assists. His scoring picked up due to a promotion to the 2nd line with Travis Konecny and Jake Voracek near the end of the season.

Second, his improved game from the end of last season, continued this season with a promotion to the 1st line. Couturier has been playing in the 1st line center role due to the team’s drafting of Nolan Patrick in the draft. Patrick, the #2 overall pick, was too good to go back to juniors. Therefore, this led Coach Dave Hakstol to move Giroux back to the wing and Couturier to the 1st line center role during training camp and boy has it paid off.

As a result of both promotions, Couturier is playing with better skilled scoring forwards than the forwards he was with on the 3rd line. But, that isn’t the only thing he is playing with and against.

With Couturier playing on the 1st & 2nd lines, he now goes up against the best defensive players in the league. Which makes his recent spike in play even greater.

Couturier was putting up good average numbers in a 3rd line defensive center role, 11 goals and 20 assists. But, if he could get that in a primarily defensive role, what can he put up in a more two-way game role?

Well, Couturier is proving that he has the offensive tools to do just that and become the next great two-way center in the league. Couturier has 27 goals and 24 assists through his first 53 games this season.

The numbers Couturier is putting up this season match and even beat some of the great Selke Trophy winners of the past like Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, & Pavel Datsyuk. But, that is not the only thing Couturier is doing good at this season.

Couturier leads the Flyers with a +18 rating, tied for 13th in the league, and has only taken 6 minor penalties all season. All good stats to boost an already impressive resume for his bid for the Selke Trophy this season.

But, will he get the recognition he needs to win the Selke?

Well, in recent history, signs from this season point to yes.

The previous 2 Selke winners, Anze Kopitar 2016 and Patrice Bergeron 2017, both were left off the all-star rosters. Both were deserving of the all-star game, but the league went for more offensive led players.

This year, Couturier, who deserved to be an all-star, was pasted up for the more offensive minded New York Islander Josh Bailey.

So, with recent trends on his side, will Sean Couturier win the Selke Trophy?

Well, Couturier is definitely leading the way at the moment. However, that can all change with an injury or a slide in his play.

But, he also has to beat out some great competition too. Other players that are in contention are Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, & Dustin Brown.

If Couturier can continue his great offensive and defensive play this season, he has a good chance to win the Selke Trophy. With a win, Couturier would join Bobby Clarke (1983) and Dave Poulin (1987) as the only Flyers to ever win the Selke Trophy.

However, thats not all Couturier can do.

If Couturier can continue his offensive strides throughout the rest of his career, this will not be his first and only victory. With Couturier being only 25 and yet to even come close to his prime, he is set up to become the next great multiple Selke Trophy winner in NHL history.

 

Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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