Couturier, Atkinson to return at 2023 Flyers Training Camp

Flyers' Cam Atkinson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 20: Philadelphia Flyers Right Wing Cam Atkinson (89) skates with the puck during the first period of a National Hockey League game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on October 20, 2021, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

A year ago, Sean Couturier was healthy, ready to compete for the Philadelphia Flyers. Couturier underwent season-ending back surgery in February 2022, but he set to prove the team was better than advertised.

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)

“We don’t seem to have on paper that big superstar or big name, but as a team, we can come together, do some damage, and prove everyone wrong.”

Sean Couturier; 9/12/2022

Then, a week after Couturier said he went to the doctors, and everything seemed ‘good,’ news broke that he could miss the 2022-2023 season with a herniated disc.

Cam Atkinson, another veteran on the Flyers, understood what John Tortorella expected of his roster. He was helping his teammates prepare for the 2022 Flyers Training Camp. Unfortunately, Atkinson didn’t finish camp. He practiced in a limited capacity but didn’t scrimmage. Most of his practice skates were non-contact.

Then, Atkinson missed all of the 2022 NHL Preseason. His benching seemed like a precaution, anticipating Atkinson to be healthy at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season. Then, as Tortorella said, ‘things just changed.’

“Things just changed. I’m not going to get into a long discussion about it. Things changed and it just went the other way. That’s one frustrated young man, right there. He wants to be a big part of this, he was one of the best players last year when he came here. It’s very frustrating, but his body just is not allowing him to get to the spot where he can start conditioning again and start getting ready to play. I’m hoping that could change as quickly as it went the wrong way, I’m hoping it can go as quickly the right way.”

John Tortorella; 10/27/2022

Atkinson underwent the same surgery that Joel Farabee did in addition to healing from atrophy in his left bicep. He missed last season but cleared a week after the 2023 Break Up Day. Atkinson noted he skated for three weeks without setbacks. He focused on getting cleared for contact and entering the 2023 Flyers Training Camp.

Keith Jones stated at the end of last season, Atkinson and Couturier were ready to return.

“They’re getting a full offseason of training and getting ready to prepare for the rigors of a long regular season. All indications are that they are full-go, and we’re really excited about that.”

Keith Jones; 8/2/2023

Returning to the lineup, Atkinson and Couturier will rejuvenate playmaking. That means an influx in scoring. Couturier, when healthy, began to cross the 70-point threshold before winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy in an abbreviated 2019-2020 season. Atkinson scored 50 points (23G, 27A) in a season where Mike Yeo replaced Alain Vigneault.

Both players fit the identity of a Tortorella lineup. Defense creates offense, allowing the forwards to move more freely in the attacking zone. Atkinson thrived previously with Tortorella, and Couturier helps the Flyers at the faceoff circle, where only Patrick Brown finished above 50% last season (minimum 41GP.)

First, they must complete the 2023 Flyers Training Camp with a clean bill of health. Atkinson worked well with Joel Farabee in the past, who also needs a boost in 2023-2024. Couturier and Noah Cates, two forwards who earn Selke Trophy votes, will be a sight to behold on a rebuilding roster.

“There’s a lot of guys that I think improved. Catesy’s one that plays a really mature game.”

Sean Couturier; 4/14/2023

Owen Tippett is another skater who will benefit from the return of Couturier and Atkinson. Atkinson could reside in the middle-six, stretching the ice with Tippett.

The addition-by-subtraction phase is complete. As Jones expects Couturier and Atkinson at the 2023 Flyers Training Camp, the lineup combines two strong, veteran skaters that’ll help guide the younger core.

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)