The New Jersey Devils annihilated the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday while emerging from a lengthy losing streak to win three of their last four games. No win over that span was more impressive than their 5-2 victory over arguably their biggest rivals. After another disappointing game by the Flyers, it is obvious they need to make a move if they are to contend this season.
With rumors of Bobby Ryan, Jarome Iginla and other elite forwards being traded for packages that would involve Sean Couturier, a team famous for two-way hockey and strong defensive systems comes to mind. Could the Devils use a player like Couturier?
Last year, he was the prospect the Flyers refused to part with, which likely cost them the opportunity to acquire a top NHL player. If the Flyers were willing to let go of him and sell high, Shea Weber might be anchoring a far less mediocre defensive unit. Ryan or Rick Nash could be playing with Claude Giroux on one of the best top lines in hockey. Instead, the Flyers kept their first round draft pick. Unfortunately, Couturier has since become one of the most disappointing players on the roster.
Against the Devils on Wednesday night, Couturier was on the ice for just under 11 1/2 minutes while posting a -2 rating in the massacre. The highly-touted draft pick is having a miserable sophomore campaign, posting just seven points through 25 games. For a supposed two-way center, he has disappointed this year. As the Flyers struggle to keep up with the rest of the Eastern Conference pack, he could be on his way out after seeming untouchable last season.
If Couturier ever realizes the potential that made him a top pick, he could be a great addition to any team – including the Devils. However, right now, the Devils have no use for a player like him. The asking price would be way too high and he would be fighting for fourth line minutes. Travis Zajac has a long-term role while Adam Henrique is one of the most clutch young scorers on the team. Andrei Loktionov has emerged as the team’s top-line center playing alongside Ilya Kovalchuk with incredible success. With Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and even Patrick Elias able to play center as well, there’s no room for Couturier on the Devils.
Obviously the Flyers would never trade someone they consider to be a top prospect to the Devils. Additionally, the Devils don’t need another center. Loktionov’s gorgeous toe-drag goal against Philadelphia on Wednesday solidified the fact that New Jersey already traded for all the center depth they needed earlier this year – and it only cost them a fifth round pick.