The Philadelphia Flyers enter the 2013 as the team that is under the microscope perhaps more than any other. Between their goaltending and their youth that is going to have to step up, they are going to be a team to watch when the season gets underway this weekend.
After losing James van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr in the summer prior to the lockout beginning, it’s clear that the Flyers are very high on the youth that they have already in the fold. One of those youngsters that is going to have to make a very large impact with this team in 2013 is Sean Couturier.
Couturier had a surprisingly solid rookie campaign for the Flyers last season. He finished with 27 points in 77 games, in a season in which he was expected to head back to juniors. But he stuck in the Flyers lineup and was a very impressive two-way player. He’ll have to be even better this season.
Couturier is a versatile forward, capable of playing both center and on the wing. We have yet to learn how the Flyers’ lineup will shake out this season, as training camp just started, but it’s hard to imagine Couturier outside of the top six. Which means a big uptick in ice time. Which means he’ll be playing against stronger competition.
In the postseason last year, Couturier was matched up against Evgeni Malkin. He performed more than admirably, as Malkin was completely silent during the season. If there were any questions about the defensive strength of Couturier, they were answered in that series.
Couturier is going to have to take that play to another level in 2013. He’ll be relied upon to bring that defensive skill up into the top six and play like he played against Malkin on a nightly basis. If he can put some more points on the board this season, which is possible if he’s playing next to more talented offensive players than he did last year, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name thrown in there as a Selke Trophy candidate.
If not, watch for his name to pop up in that discussion as early as next year