There aren’t many players as effective in a two-way role as Sean Couturier. The 2019-20 Selke Trophy award winner has consistently been one of the team’s top performers, but injuries plagued his 2021-22 season. During a season where there wasn’t much to cheer for, and other players were dropping like flies to other ailments, having him on the sideline was not an easy pill to swallow for anyone.
Couturier is a leader on a young Philadelphia Flyers team, and his presence on the ice would have been perfect for the younger players making their jump to the NHL to learn from. Although he was around the team, there is something to be said about not playing. It makes all the difference.
If it wasn’t for his injuries, the likelihood that Couturier would have had a strong season is high. Despite only playing 29 games, he still scored 17 points, putting him on pace for 48 points in an 82-game season. That number would have been third on the Flyers. His advanced numbers were also substantial, sporting the team’s second-highest expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 48.83, behind only Claude Giroux. As far as goals above replacement (GAR) and expected goals above replacement (xGAR) go, he ranked 10th and 14th, respectively.
To add some more colorful details to the kind of season Couturier had, here’s his regularized adjusted plus-minus chart:
He drove an above-average amount of expected goals (xG), shot the puck a lot (which probably helped contribute to that xG total), and played strong defense to top it all off. It just sucks that his season had to end.
In Couturier’s 11-year NHL career, he has only played three full seasons thus far. His production has been relatively consistent year over year. Nonetheless, the Flyers would benefit from him being in the lineup consistently, especially now that Giroux is long gone to the Ottawa Senators.
Would Couturier have had an incredible season with incredible results in 2021-22? No, probably not, especially considering there weren’t many people who would be able to help him out both offensively and defensively consistently. However, he still provided plenty of value in the limited time he could be on the ice. He was one of the only players that could step on the ice and Flyers fans would be comfortable with. But after being out for a while with an “upper-body injury,” things became bleaker and bleaker until it was announced he had surgery and wouldn’t return for the rest of the year.
The numbers suggest there shouldn’t be any concerns about Couturier’s play and results. They’re perfectly fine, and at this point, you’ll take what you can get. However, health is a big issue. Getting hurt is not an option for a team that consistently needs a player like him on the ice to fix the vibes. Sitting on the sidelines and watching your team fail when you feel like you can make a difference is one of the worst feelings.
Besides his next season being the first of a long extension signed by general manager Chuck Fletcher, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of fire Couturier can bring in the upcoming season after missing a good chunk of time.