Sean Couturier, C Drummondville Voltigeurs
Born: December 7, 1992 in Phoenix, Arizona
Strengths: Big-bodied frame with plenty of room to fill out and add mass/strength. Superb hockey sense in all zones; has the natural vision and creativity to generate offense, while also possessing the anticipation to play effective defense and properly diagram plays before they unfold. Outstanding puckhandler who can carry it into traffic and maintain possession with a quick stick, sharp hand-eye coordination and a natural ability to dangle and beat defenders to open space. Heavy shot that he's becoming more and more dangerous with as he gains confidence in his own abilities. When he improves his upper-body strength, will generate even more power on his quick release and accurate drive. Slick playmaking center who is a load to contain when he drives the net. Willingly takes the hit to make the play. When he gets stronger will use his strength and long reach to be an effective penalty killer and responsible guy in his own end. A team player- grew up around hockey and understands the importance of the collective dynamic.
Weaknesses: Skating needs to improve- mainly in his first few steps and ability to make quick stops and starts. His heavy feet are only really an issue in the initial quickness and rapid transitions because he has a powerful stride and is effective when he gets up to speed. Doesn't appear to have a high offensive ceiling, but stands to be a very good NHL player in all zones over time.
Sean Couturier compilation video (NHLDraftVideo)
Couturier scores from his knees (no audio) (NHLDraftVideo)
Interview with Sean Couturier at the NHL Scouting Combine (B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Keith Primeau
Draft prediction:If Couturier isn't a top-five selection, then he becomes an instant value anywhere thereafter. Another late-1992 who has had his game unfairly picked apart by scouts, you still have to remember that he scored with more frequency than any other 2011 draft candidate. Had he not missed 10 games to the WJC and mono and other ailments, he would have pushed for the league scoring crown for the second straight year. Couturier is a winner, and if he does somehow drop, some NHL team is going to happily add him to the mix. He's been downgraded because he isn't dynamic, but our guess is that in about four years, people are going to look back on the 2011 draft and wonder why Couturier didn't go inside the top-two (unless of course Edmonton or Colorado surprise everyone- we shall see).
Projection: Second-line center with 30+, 80+-point upside whose real value lies in his smarts and versatility. Will be an honest center who can score or grind it out. Couturier will be a fixture on special teams for whichever team drafts him. And as solid/strong as those projections may seem, we might be selling him short.
Background:Father, Sylvain, is the GM for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL; was the 65th overall selection of the Los Angeles Kings in 1986 and played 33 NHL games with the team between 1988-92. Sean was born in Phoenix while Sylvain was playing for the IHL's Phoenix Roadrunners. Played for the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Saskatchewan before joining the QMJHL; teammates included 2010 1st-rounders Brandon Gormley (PHX) and Jaden Schwartz (STL). Led the QMJHL in scoring in 2009-10 with 96 points ( the first time in history that the league scoring champion did not score at least 100 points). Scored 96 points again in 2010-11 to finish fourth in league scoring, but had the highest point-per-game average of any 2011 draft eligible forward (missed time to WJC and injury) with 36 goals, 60 helpers in just 58 contests. Named 1st Team QMJHL All-Star. Favorite NHL team: Montreal Canadiens Favorite NHL player: Evgeni Malkin
If Couturier had his own soundtrack it would be: "Train Kept a Rollin'"- Metallica and Friends
“At his size, he'll be hard to pass up in the draft. He possesses a very good work ethic and he's out there for every important faceoff. He's very responsible in the defensive aspect of the game -- a rare quality for such a young player in junior hockey."- Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau to NHL.com; May, 2011
“Sean has excellent puckhandling and playmaking ability; he sees the ice and reads the play very well . . . He's extremely smart and gets himself into good scoring position. He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively.”- Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com; May, 2011
"In my view, he's not a terrible skater, but the lack of suddenness is evident and he'll never be considered a "plus-skater" no matter how much work he puts into it. When you're looking at drafting a player with the first or second overall pick, these are the kinds of things that teams/scouts will obsess about because his stride is a little funky, and he makes slower, wide turns at times. That said, if Couturier picks up a step or two, he'll be fine. I heard the same exact things about Patrice Bergeron when he was drafted, and the difference between Couturier and Bergeron (aside from the draft position) is about six inches and some considerable offensive upside. Because of where Couturier stands to be drafted, the stakes are higher for him."- B2011DW on Sean Couturier to In Lou We Trust; May, 2011
"Every year there seems to be a player at or near the top who falls off for whatever reason. Couturier is that guy, even thoughhe finished just behind Huberdeau in league scoring at the fourth spot. He's got a nice 6-4, 195-pound frame and has the hands and instincts to be a scorer at the next level. What is hurting him most are his heavy feet, but you can expect that he will spend a lot of time with power skating instructors between now and whenever he's knocking on the NHL door to remedy that shortcoming. We're not buying the argument that because his father was a journeyman, Couturier might be bound for the same NHL fate- just look at Sidney Crosby. NHL teams aren't spending much time using that as a major sticking point as to whether to draft Couturier or not. Two straight years of 96 points should be convincing enough evidence that this kid can get it done offensively."- B2011DW on Couturier; March 2011
In Lou We Trust Sean Couturier draft profile (worth reading and not just because they kindly mention B2011DW in it-very good stuff there)
Couturier headlines talented draft class in QMJHL by Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com
Couturier stays the course despite adversity by Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com