Serenity Now

Lowetide
March 23 2011 02:10PM

Sean Couturier has proven to be a poor front runner. The "reverse Secretariat" started at the front of the pack (with Adam Larsson) and appeared to be holding his own through the World Junior roster cuts. Since then, he's been passed like a house on the side of the road.   
 

It cannot be easy for these teenagers at the top of the draft. Millions of dollars can be made or lost in a draft year: cover the bet like Taylor Hall and you win the toughest prize in amateur hockey (first overall in the NHL draft). Struggle and you can drop quicker than Angelo Esposito.

Sean Couturier is extremely unlikely to be the first overall selection at the 2011 entry draft. That in and of itself isn't big news, Couturier was co-#1 on Bob McKenzie's pre-season list (it is here) so being selected 2nd or 3rd wouldn't send Angelo Esposito ripples throughout the scouting community (Esposito was ranked at or near the top of the draft by central scouting, and then ended up going 20th overall in his draft year). Even a 4th overall selection in the entry draft for Couturier wouldn't be such a big deal.

However, as time passes there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests Couturier is sliding as the draft season wears on. This looks more like Cam Fowler's fall from his predicted spot on the draft floor, which was a matter of teams liking another prospect just a little bit more. In Couturier's case, the trickle may become a flood and some scouting services currently rank him at the edge of the top 10. Here's the latest list from Redline Report:

  1. RW Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener (OHL)
  2. C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer (WHL)
  3. D Adam Larsson, Skelleftea (SEL)
  4. D Dougie Hamilton, Niagra (OHL)
  5. L Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John (QMJHL)
  6. D Ryan Murphy, Kitchener (OHL)
  7. C Ryan Strome, Niagra (OHL)
  8. C Sean Couturier, Drummondville (QMJHL)
  9. C Alex Khokhlachev, Windsor (OHL)
  10. L Brandon Saad, Saginaw (OHL)

In our conversation on Nation Radio this past Saturday, ON's Jonathan Willis said "Redline is a scouting organization that likes to make a big splash, they like to generate controversy with their lists. I can't help but think that a little bit of that is playing into placing Couturier at #8."

EJ McGuire, the director of Central Scouting, would seem to agree. I asked him for any names he felt could break into the season long top 4 (Larsson, Couturier, Landeskog and RNH) and he felt there was no one, not even Hamilton and Strome whose arrows have been going straight up since the new year. When asked directly about Couturier being available outside the top 5, McGuire said "he is long legged and smooth and very deliberate, yet sees the ice well. If you want a firewagon hockey you might pass over this player."

One team that appears to be considering passing over Couturier is the Edmonton Oilers. At a special event for season ticket holders on the weekend, Steve Tambellini mentioned the names in consideration for first overall. Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton were all mentioned, but the big Drummondville center was omitted from ST's list. I think we can all understand that the Oilers aren't about to reveal their lists, but it is also reasonable to assume that they are in fact looking at those 5 men at number one.

Which leads me to believe it's Adam Larsson or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

RISKY BUSINESS

Couturier was at or near the top of the draft for the first few months of this season. What happened? Too many viewings? Did he fade? 

Couturier had an outstanding offensive season. He went 36-60-96 in 58 games played. Where is the case against him? Here it is:

  • His splits were 25gp, 16-36-52 before January 1st (a 2.08ppg total) and 33gp, 20-24-44 in 2011's regular season games (1.33).
  • Kirk Luedeke's take on the fall is here. He says: 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.

 And perhaps most damaging his year-to-year progress is lagging compared to Nugent-Hopkins and Strome:

Sean Couturier

  • Age 15 in Q: 58gp, 9-22-31 (,534ppg)
  • Age 16 in Q: 68gp, 41-55-96 (1.412ppg)
  • Age 17 in Q: 58gp, 36-60-96 (1.655ppg)

Couturier didn't stall season over season, but the improvement (as noted above by the splits) stopped after the World Juniors. He may be what he is, which is still an exceptional prospect. But more and more he is looking like Doug Wickenheiser in a world of Denis Savard's, with no GM willing to select the big man #1 this time.

Ryan Strome

  • Age 16 in O: 61gp, 8-19-27 (.443ppg)
  • Age 17 in O: 65gp, 33-73-106 (1.631ppg)

Although his point-per-game total is similar to Couturier, it's a case of how he got there. Strome's development has been nothing less than astonishing, to the point where Woodlief is now calling him the best stickhandler in the draft. Although Strome has not been considered as a serious option by most Oiler fans (including me) from this point forward Strome should be in the conversation. He could go #1, and the Oilers have listed him as a player under consideration. Strome is 6.01, 183 and right-handed which may also help when projecting him onto the Oilers in the future.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

  • Age 15 in W: 5gp, 2-4-6 (1.2ppg)
  • Age 16 in W: 67gp, 24-41-65 (.9701ppg)
  • Age 17 in W: 69gp, 31-75-106 (1.536ppg)

A strong finish puts RNH in the conversation. He has clearly improved season-over-season and his season caught fire at about the same time as Couturier began to fade. He has exceptional skill and appears to be the "Doan" selection for Oilers nation at this draft.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Edmonton Oilers are extremely likely to have the first overall selection at the entry draft. Sean Couturier doesn't appear to be under consideration, although a strong playoff could change all that in a hurry. Adam Larsson and RNH are still standing, as is Gabriel Landeskog. And in an "oh by the way" kicker to the Couturier news we have two new kids to consider in Strome and Dougie Hamilton.

In this way the Oilers list appears to be marching in lock step with Redline report.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#101 OILERSORDEATH
March 24 2011, 12:29PM
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D-Man wrote:

I think you could probably give a bit less for Johansen.. He isn't proven but definitely has a huge upside.. I'm guessing something like Gagner and the 20th like you're suggesting for Gudbranson.

Although Gudbranson has a huge upside, I'm not sure why you'd want to go after him with Petry and Marincin in the wings. Granted - Gudbranson is as tough and more offensively gifted than Theo Peckham - you still have only a few roster spots on the back end this year. Whitney, Gilbert, Smid, Foster, Peckham and Petry are probably you're top 6 with maybe a cheaper version of Vandermeer as your #7.

Would you make that Gudbranson trade and place him the minors?? His junior eligibility is up this year, right??

Let me tell ya livin here In Portland I've watched Johanson all year the he's a fricken stud!! If the Oil could swing a draft day deal for him I would cream my shorts!! He usually pysically dominates all he plays againts and he's fast as hell, and has a deadly shot. LA's 1st, Hemmer and maybe Cogs should do it?

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#102 D-Man
March 24 2011, 01:18PM
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OILERSORDEATH wrote:

Let me tell ya livin here In Portland I've watched Johanson all year the he's a fricken stud!! If the Oil could swing a draft day deal for him I would cream my shorts!! He usually pysically dominates all he plays againts and he's fast as hell, and has a deadly shot. LA's 1st, Hemmer and maybe Cogs should do it?

True - but that's also against junior players and not NHL caliber. Don't get me wrong - Johanson is going to be a very good player in the NHL; I'm just not sure when. I wouldn't give a proven point per game player and a 1st round pick without seeing him play a couple NHL games first. I would definitely part with Hemmer and maybe a 3rd rounder for Johanson.. Throwing a pick and Cogs would be too much IMO.

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#103 knee deep in it
March 24 2011, 01:41PM
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dr_oil99 wrote:

Don't get me wrong guys, I do know we have 50% chance of winning this year, no different than any other team on any other year. Thats not the point.

If you were a betting man and that coin flip hit heads 99 times in a row, if you had to place a bet on which one it was going to land on the next flip, what would you bet on?

If you say tails, why????? Because it has to hit tails eventually and the longer it goes without hitting tails the more likely it is to hit tails on the next flip. Yes it's a 50/50 flip on that 100th time but your going to be awfully hesitant to bet heads.

I actually would bet on heads because the coin or the flip is obviously biased.

Can I come to your poker game?

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#104 tyler
March 24 2011, 06:03PM
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Chris. wrote:

I'm a Couturier guy. I think he will be a responsible, big minute horse; who'll post good numbers for a lot of years in the NHL... Kinda a French Canadian version of Matts Sundin.

keep dreaming buddy

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#105 longbottom/P.Biglow
March 24 2011, 07:25PM
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I started out the year as a Couturier guy and am still a Couturier guy. Am wondering though is it possable that he becomes this years Eberle? Is it possable he could drop far enough for the Oil to get him with LA's #1 pick? Wouldn't that be a kicker getting both Larsson and Couturier?

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#106 smiliegirl15
March 25 2011, 09:31AM
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We can only hope he's still around when we have our second pick thanks to the Kings. We may get the steal of the draft!

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