Who predicted that Philadelphia Flyers Center Sean Couturier would be a first line Center? Not many hockey analysts, and even some fans never thought that Couturier would ever breakout offensively, like he did in Junior hockey by tallying 192 points in his final two seasons.
For the past few years when thinking of Couturier breaking out offensively. It was comparable to The Undertones hit song in 1981, “It’s Gonna Happen.” Would it ever happen was the question? Well, folks it did, and Couturier was rightfully nominated for the Selke Trophy (Given to the best Defensive Forward) for his efforts. However, one question still remains. Will Anze Kopitar’s nomination of the Hart Trophy (MVP) hurt Couturier’s chances of winning the Selke Trophy, as Kopitar is also a nominee for the Selke Trophy?
“Couts,” accounted for a career high 31 goals, 45 assists, and was a whopping plus 34 in 82 games played. He seemed to be a one man wrecking crew midway through the season, and for his efforts was the Flyers MVP at the halfway mark of the season by tallying 16 goals, and 16 assists.
Playing on the “Ginger Line,” Couturier was nothing short of phenomenal. Head Coach Dave Hakstol had the guts to place Claude Giroux on the left-wing, and Jakub Voracek on the right-wing, and the one and only Couturier as the Centerman to fill out the Flyers top line. The successful trio accounted for 43% of the team’s total offense at even strength, with 25 goals between them. With the team looking for more secondary scoring. Hakstol had no other choice but to break up the successful “Ginger Line,” on December 4 against the Calgary Flames. Let’s not forget that “Couts,” resurrected the careers of Giroux and Voracek before trio broke up.
“Couts,” what more can be said about this young 25-year-old first line Center. While forming a new line with Giroux, and Wayne Simmonds/Travis Konecny/Michael Raffl. Couturier continued to have a strong season. He finished the second half of the year with 15 goals, and 29 assists. Moreover, Couturier channeled his inner Danny Briere as Mr. Playoffs, as he tallied a game winner in-game 5 against the Penguins, and a hat trick in-game 6. Hold on it gets better. In games 5 and 6 Couturier played with a torn MCL. Of course, playoff stats don’t factor into the nomination for the Selke Trophy, but just wanted to throw that in there to show the importance of Couturier.
The 25-year-old Center in Couturier, was exactly what a Selke nominee should be. He finished the year with a 53.2% Corsi Rating (EV), Faceoff Percentage was 52.8%, registered 44 blocked shots, had 48 takeaways, 37 giveaways, and averaged 21:36 in total ice time. Of course, he plays in every facet of the game, whether it’s the penalty kill or powerplay to boot. Simply put, this young man did it all.
Now let’s compare Kopitar’s stats to Couturiers stats. Kopitar is equally as important to his team as Couturier is. He really does it all for the Los Angeles Kings. Kopitar tallied 35 goals, 57 assists, and was a whopping plus 21. Moreover, his Corsi Rating was 53.1% (EV), Faceoff Percentage was 54.1%, registered 64 blocked shots, had 54 Takeaways, 70 giveaways, and averaged 22:05 in total ice time. This 30-year-old stud did it all for the Kings this year. They also made the playoffs solely riding on Kopitar’s shoulders.
One problem that stands in Couturier’s way of winning the Selke Trophy, is Kopitar’s nomination for the Hart Trophy. The nomination for Kopitar as MVP will muster up against Couturier in the end for the Selke. Unless there is a tie for this award, which happened last season with Sidney Crosby and Connor Mcdavid finding themselves both tied for the Hart Trophy voting. It’s more than likely Kopitar’s Selke to lose.
There is no mistake about it both of these players had very good years. Couturier rightfully deserved the nomination for the Selke Trophy. He prides himself on being outstanding Defensively, but wanted to showcase his Offensive skills, as well. If Couturier’s numbers were a shad higher this season, then Couturier could have possibly upset Kopitar by winning the Selke Trophy. Unfortunately, in the end the nomination of the Hart Trophy for Kopitar is just too strong for an upset this season. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.