Flyers’ Couturier fits the bill of captaincy

Flyers' Sean Couturier
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 11: Philadelphia Flyers Center Sean Couturier (14) reacts to referees after the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers on January 11, 2020 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

For the past decade, the Philadelphia Flyers have been led by Claude Giroux. He was the longest-tenured captain in Flyers history, is ranked second in games played, points and assists, and is eighth in goals scored.

Through the good and the bad, Giroux was a player who gave his all in each game. He is synonymous with Philadelphia hockey; the face and identity of the franchise during his tenure on Broad Street. When Giroux was traded to the Florida Panthers in March, the Flyers lost a special identity.

A captain has yet to be named for the 2022-2023 season. There are viable options for the captaincy. Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Cam Atkinson, and Kevin Hayes have been the most frequent names brought up as potential candidates.

Another question develops as the Flyers decide who will be the 20th captain in franchise history; who is the current ‘face’ of the franchise?

The current longest-tenured Flyer

Couturier is the current longest-tenured Flyer on the roster. He was drafted 8th overall in 2011 and played 721 games. A member of the starting roster since he was drafted, through all the ups and downs of the past decade, Couturier seems like a shoo-in.

Exploding during the 2017-2018 season with 76pts (31G, 45A) in 82 games, Couturier kept it up during the end of the Dave Hakstol era. He went into the 2018-2019 season with the same pace, finishing with 76pts (33G, 43A) in 80 games. He was the runner-up for the Frank J. Selke trophy that year.

In his first season with Alain Vigneault, Couturier secured the Selke. He beat second-place recipient Patrice Bergeron by 540 votes. Bergeron has won the Selke five times in his career.

A rough 2021-2022

Last season, Couturier played 29 games. He was placed on the injured reserve in December and underwent back surgery in February. Throughout those 29 games, Couturier scored 17pts (6G, 11A.) While on a line with Giroux throughout the first 10 games, both players were scoring at a point-per-game pace. During the next 19 games, Couturier only scored five points and his season was finished.

Putting aside this season, Couturier has solidified himself as one of the top two-way centers in the NHL. He has a Selke to prove it. He’s also proven to be a leader in the Flyers’ locker room as he’s been an assistant captain since 2018-2019. Giroux has helped Couturier make his mark in the league and become the player he is today.

Onto 2022-2023

Couturier is a crucial part of the Flyers heading into next season. His power play and penalty kill abilities were greatly missed last season, as was his presence in general. Couturier strengthens Philadelphia in every aspect of the game. He isn’t as flashy as some centers in the NHL, but he does his job consistently every time he steps onto the ice. He will play an even larger role under John Tortorella both on the ice and in the locker room.

Signed through the 2029-2030 season, Couturier is meant to be a pillar of Flyers hockey. He makes the most sense to be the 20th player to wear the “C” in Philadelphia, as the face of the franchise.

(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)