Just going to quickly present a few facts:
- Sean Couturier is 18 years old.
- He is playing on the fourth line with Jody Shelley and Maxime Talbot, playing against other fourth line competition. These are not quality NHL minutes.
- He is playing on the penalty kill quite frequently, giving him a small share of valuable minutes per night.
- He earns about $500,000 to $700,000 more on his current contract than other players in the organization that could that same role this season. For a team so close to the cap that they can only afford to ice six defensemen right now, that's a lot of money.
- If he plays on Thursday night against Winnipeg, his current contract will end in the summer of 2014 instead of the summer of 2015.
- In the summer of 2014, the Flyers will also have to pay free agents Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Andrej Meszaros. We can safely assume that at least two of these players will get large raises, thus money will be hard to come by that summer.
- An extra year of 21-year-old Sean Couturier in 2014-15, when he's a much more seasoned player and certainly a contributing piece of the top-9, is likely much more valuable than a year of 18-year-old Sean Couturier playing mostly on the fourth line with some penalty kill minutes sprinkled in.
- The Flyers are against the salary cap all the time, and thus have to make smart decisions when it comes to future planning, asset management and cap management.
- Sean Couturier is almost certainly going to play on Thursday night against Winnipeg.
How does any of this make any sense at all?