FTHM V: SEAN COUTURIER

Robin Brownlee
May 06 2011 04:12PM

Is Sean Couturier the big, strong and skilled first-line centre fans of the Edmonton Oilers have been clamouring for -- and possibly a franchise player GM Steve Tambellini can build around?

Or is the towering Drummondville pivot simply head-and-shoulders bigger than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels in terms of stature, but not necessarily talent in the estimation of many amateur scouts who've been tracking his progress in the QMJHL?

We won't have the answer for years to come, but the Oilers have to make that call before they make the No. 1 pick at the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota June 24. Is Couturier, who has slid in CSS rankings, their man at No. 1, or will it be Nugent-Hopkins or big Swede Adam Larsson?

I spoke with Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor about Couturier and have also added some facts and opinions from CSS, just as I did for Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Landeskog and will do for Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson it items still to come.

THE SKINNY FROM CSS

Sean Couturier

North American Skater

Drummondville, QMJHL

Final Rank: 6 Midterm Rank: 2

Position: Center Shoots: Left

Height: 6' 4" Weight: 197

Born: December 7, 1992 Hometown: Bathurst, NB

Born in: Phoenix, AZ, USA

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau

“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."

-- After finishing in a tie for fourth in league scoring with 96 points (36-60-96) this season, Couturier was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player, the Top 2011 Draft Prospect and selected a First-Team All-Star. He also finished second in the league with a plus-55 rating.

-- He was the youngest and only draft-eligible player on Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, winning a silver medal. He also won a gold medal with Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.

MACGREGOR'S TAKE

Scouting Report: "He's got great vision, hockey sense and puck control. He's real big and strong and he'll get more powerful as he develops physically."

Projection: "I think he could be a first-line centre."

Best Case Scenario: "A good first-line centre."

Concerns: "He has to get quicker, speed-wise."

MY TAKE

Either MacGregor is lukewarm about Couturier or under-selling the Oilers interest in him (which they don't have to do when they sit with the No. 1 pick). "Could be a first-line centre?" A "good" first-line centre as the top end? Not the praise I was expecting to hear.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#52 Sean
May 06 2011, 07:08PM
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Hello, I read a post on a blog called "in Lou we trust".It was a devils blog and on there they said the Oil drafting RNH was the worst kept secret in the NHL I had to laugh.

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#53 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 07:09PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The Oilers were fairly aggressive going after that No.2 pick last summer. Do you feel they'll be even more agressive this summer in an attempt to get another one of these kids, would they dare to take 2 centers with their first 2 selections in your opinion?

I'm with you on that one. Or one center and Landeskog.

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#54 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 07:16PM
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Question is would Colorado bite? Would NJ or NYI bite? What would it take for players and L.A’s pick? Would like to hear what everone thinks it would take.

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#55 Kevin
May 06 2011, 07:22PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

Hmm, a big physical centre who takes important faceoffs. Why would the Oilers want one of those when theres a smallish skilled centre available as well, you cant have enough of those now, can you. *Keep in mind I was pushing for Seguin last year

yes, well put ! really makes you wonder what we are building here when you watch the current edition of the Stanley cup playoffs. Well at least I'm watching. Not sure if ST or KL watches much hockey this time of year. The size or lack of it on this OIL team needs to be addressed. Making the playoffs, yes, is an accomplishment but winning a series and going deep requires bigger grittier bodies. Winning faceoffs and having a go to guy there would be good too. My fear is if we go with RNH, a smaller frame will disappear in the big mans league. Sam Gagne had similar points in his draft year and look at how he has developed. He is not a first line centre- we are still in need for that elusive centre. I trust Stu will make the right choice. The question is who will make the final call ? That's what scares me.......

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#56 @NateInVegas
May 06 2011, 07:28PM
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Best case Couturier = Joe Thornton ..

Worst case Jason Bonsignore..

If he's around at #6 or higher Edmonton should trade up.

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#57 Quicksilver ballet
May 06 2011, 07:34PM
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Wes Mantooth wrote:

Question is would Colorado bite? Would NJ or NYI bite? What would it take for players and L.A’s pick? Would like to hear what everone thinks it would take.

For New Jerseys 4th.

Oilers send the 19th, the 31st and Alex Plante to Jersey for the 4th and either Rolston or Elias or other salary type offload.(Rolston has one yr left@ 5, Elias has 2 yrs left @5 with a 6 cap hit)

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#58 DSF
May 06 2011, 08:02PM
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Wes Mantooth wrote:

Question is would Colorado bite? Would NJ or NYI bite? What would it take for players and L.A’s pick? Would like to hear what everone thinks it would take.

Word is that Colorado and Toronto will work a deal around Statsny.

Remember Toronto has two first round picks.

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#59 They're $hittie
May 06 2011, 08:11PM
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There is no way we trade up to get two centers. If the team was not happy with Gagner he would be gone by now. either one of these centers is going to push Gagner to be a better player. than we can have a one two punch. We are nt drafting landeskog. We are getting a center and a D.

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#60 Quicksilver ballet
May 06 2011, 08:44PM
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Sox and Oil wrote:

Also to GorillazXL I agree.

For example if Florida really wants Larrson, but Edmo puts out a press release in April saying they want SC first overall, FLA is no longer motivated to trade with EDM because they now know there's very little likelihood that FLA 'target' will be taken at 1. Florida then offers Colorado picks/prospects to get Larrson at 2.

That just one example but even with 1st overall you have to keep the cards close to your chest.

I like your Florida idea.....Oilers send the 1st,the 19th and Alex Plante to the Panthers for the 3rd and Gudbranson.

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#61 Wax Man Riley
May 06 2011, 11:04PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

In 1981-82 another 6'4" kid who needed work on his skating as well put up 30 goals and 66 assists during his season in the QMJHL season.

Sean Couturier pots 36 goals and 60 assists during his 2010-11 campaign in the QMJHL. Once the kid gets comfortable he may even handle his own battles on the ice like Hall has started to. The 81-82 kid was named Mario Lemieux. Maybe we should focus on what Sean can do instead of some things he can work on, maybe Serdachny could offer some help. Reading this leads me to rethink the RNH at No.1, perhaps we're better off with Couturier and Strome or Couturier and Huberdeau.

Like i said last year for Seguin, SELL THE FARM!...and get a shot at another one of these kids. Any duo of RNH/Couturier/Strome/Huberdeau would end the issues the Oilers have down the middle for many years.

Couturier....to Gagner, cutting in on the right side....HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!

Stuarts controlled enthusiasm for Sean tells me the Oilers are working hard to do this very thing.

In '78-'79 a kid that was too small and too skinny was putting up decent points in a minor pro/pro league, but going into the big leagues he would be pushed around way too much to be effective.

That '79-'80 kid was named Gretzky. Lets not start comparing anyone to the best players ever to play the game unless his name is Crosby.

There was a player putting up very good numbers,in '95-'96, like 101 pts in a very good WHL league. 27 goals, 74 assists. He also put up 203 PIM! He was tough, AND could put up points.

Any guesses to who that was?

So lets temper the comparisons, because you never know. Tough to take a pick due to size or not take one due to lack of.

...And all of that being said, a large, skilled center would look great in an Oilers Jersey dishing passes or blazing trails to the net.

But, so would an incredibly speedy, shifty, smart center that battles hard every shift. I just don't see the Oilers getting both at the top of the draft.

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#62 Wax Man Riley
May 06 2011, 11:15PM
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Sorry Quicks, didn't really mean to use your post, just been reading the comparisons from everyone and replied to yours

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#63 knobby
May 06 2011, 11:30PM
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Nowhere have I read anything about Courturier that would suggest he has big league compete or a feisty edge to him. Does that mean he is a low-key non-competitive guy or what? Mike Richards is not blindingly fast, big or quick but he has what appears to be a big heart and leads quite convincingly.

Is physical size over-emphasized measured against some of the subjective intangibles?

I guess we'll see. I wonder what steps are taken to assess future performance via psych testing? Do the NHL teams take that into account or do they just go on impressions left from interviewing the players?

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#64 Mitch
May 06 2011, 11:51PM
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@Brownlee

If I read your articles correctly, I still feel the Oilers take RNH. When I look back at 03 and the handful of great players the Oilers passed up and even traded down for to select Pouliot, I still get pissed off. After watching all of the WJ's I just feel Couturier is big and strong but not a big game player, I need high skill, the guy that wants the puck all night long when your going for the win. RNH is the best player available to give me these quailty's that also fits the current roster of the oilers, RNH is a mix of Sakic and Datsyuk. Yes there is a good possibility that we could aquire one more high pick, if it was me I select Ryan Murphy a P.P. specalist, he should not be over looked. Yes RNH is a small guy, but would you pass up on Parise? Other roster players can be moved when the time is correct.

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#65 PaperDesigner
May 07 2011, 12:32AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Is there a reason why the little tag about projecting what the player might be has been applied to every player in this series except Nugent-Hopkins?

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#66 NastyNate
May 07 2011, 12:59AM
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@Wax Man Riley

I think you may be referring to the one and only Steve Kelly whose NHL career was a major let down based uptown his junion boxcars. Poor guy, the oil would love someone with those junior numbers right now. I think it just goes to show that when players are drafted they have alot of growing to do before they become bonified NHL players and every year will have its busts and surprises.

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#67 speeds
May 07 2011, 01:00AM
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re: Couturier's supposed "lack of compete:

The scouts have seemed pretty unanimous in praising Couturier as an excellent two way and defensive player.

I'm not really sure how a player could have a "lack of compete" and still be an excellent defensive player? Does he just wish the puck away from the opponent?

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#68 Oilfan00
May 07 2011, 01:46AM
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PaperDesigner wrote:

Is there a reason why the little tag about projecting what the player might be has been applied to every player in this series except Nugent-Hopkins?

I believe the RNH article is still coming, the previous one was just an intro I think, I think Larsson and Nugent-Hopkins are still coming.

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#69 treblecharger
May 07 2011, 02:39AM
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Robin: Don't have time to read all the comments, (just got home from work, bed, work again in 6 hrs.), but I've had a feeling the last few months that maybe the team favours this kid and is downplaying their interest. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tambo move down. Something like: 1st pick and a prospect to Florida for 3rd pick and Gudbranson?

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#70 pelhem grenville
May 07 2011, 07:22AM
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...this kid hasn't played a minute in the NHL AND has had knee ligament damage recently... everyone has praised the crap outta him (dunno why) but why trade with FLA for #3 when there's better choices to get other players other than young unproven slow-to-develop iffy-at-best unrecommended-by-Gregor-a-hundred-times dmen? The Oilers have time to get their 'nextPronger' type with ONE good trade, no?

also...i shuddered (actually i puked a little in my mouth) when i read, "For his part, Gudbranson says he models his game after Calgary Flames (now MapleLeaf) defenceman Dion Phanuef..."

yikes!... do we want a kid who admits modeling his game after ...gulp!...Dion Phaneuf?

nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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#71 Robin Brownlee
May 07 2011, 08:02AM
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PaperDesigner wrote:

Is there a reason why the little tag about projecting what the player might be has been applied to every player in this series except Nugent-Hopkins?

The reason is I haven't done the profile on Nugent-Hopkins (or Larsson) yet. They are all being done the same way.

You picked up on one line where MacGregor projects the player but didn't notice the rest of the items have been done exactly the same way from top to bottom? Odd.

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#72 michael
May 07 2011, 08:20AM
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Will the early playoff exits of the Flyers and the Capitals change the dnamics of the draft just a little more in our favor? I would think that Philly needs to rethink its goaltending. Again. Proven once again that if you don't have goaltending you won't go far in the SCP. The abscence of secondary scoring for the Capitals and the lack of blueline experience came back to haunt the Capitals. Would a Hemsky trade to the Capitals be out of the realm of possibility? The off season is going to be so interesting. The draft will be a major highlight of the off season with the Oilers picking first. Maybe.My pick is still RNH. Though I would like the Oilers to make a strong move to trade up to pick Huberdeaux or Strome.

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#73 Jon
May 07 2011, 09:39AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

What you wrote makes no sense.

The Oilers have the No. 1 pick. They don't have to play cute about who they really like -- as a team with the second, third or fourth pick might -- they just have to take the guy they want.

They can say they love every guy rated in the top 10 and it doesn't hurt their "negotiating" position a bit.

I think you misunderstood his post. You're right, they can say they love EVERY guy in the top 10 and it won't hurt them. But I think what he was trying to say was that if they gush over ONE guy, then that hurts them. And I think that makes sense, because ex. Colorado wants to trade up to #1, they don't even offer if they know that the Oilers' guy isn't their guy.

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#74 Quicksilver ballet
May 07 2011, 10:01AM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Sorry Quicks, didn't really mean to use your post, just been reading the comparisons from everyone and replied to yours

No problaimo Wax Man.

Sometimes it's humor, sometimes it makes sense, you never know what you're going to get here.

It always makes for an interesting visit here when we're all wearing a can.

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#75 derrickhands
May 07 2011, 10:13AM
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Robin you forgot to mention one very important part that Sean Couturier was recovering from mono which takes about a year to recover from it's affects. It would be safe to say that he was not 100% healthy all year and he was still able to produce. Imagine what he would be like when he's healthy.

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#76 madjam
May 07 2011, 10:54AM
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Hopkins could turn out to be the next Daigle . In a lot of ways reminds me of him in his draft year .Could prove to be a disasterous first overall pick . Will he turn out to be better than Gagner or Eberle , maybe but i wouldn't bank on it . Will he turn out to be the next Sakic, Datsyuk or Gretsky ? Not even a 10 % chance from what i have seen of him . Way over assessed from what i see . We need a big centerman or D man more than taking on another high risk player . I can see us taking a shot at RNHopkins with a second pick possibility , but not our first .

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#77 Clyde Frog
May 07 2011, 11:51AM
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Madjam.. Oh madjam, you are precious...

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#78 Quicksilver ballet
May 07 2011, 11:52AM
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@madjam

Should they forteit the 1st,the 19th and the 31st so they don't embarrass themselves then?

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#79 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
May 07 2011, 03:18PM
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@madjam

Sakic, Datsyuk or Gretsky ?

You, sir, have lost the last ounce of respect you once carried as an oilers fan.

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#80 Team Couturier
May 07 2011, 10:39PM
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Brilliant article again Robin, this is the most riveting series since Star Wars. From the visual looks of Stu's comments, I was concluding that maybe Stu was thinking about taking this guy #1, and why wouldnt he? Then you made a comment that stressed the negatives in Stu's comments. I can't argue with that, since you were sitting in the room, but by my eye these were the most positive comments on any players in your series to date. (save maybe RNH)Part of me still hopes for this Joe Thornton centre. A Big top line center? Who wants that?

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#81 Oilfan00
May 08 2011, 01:33AM
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madjam wrote:

Hopkins could turn out to be the next Daigle . In a lot of ways reminds me of him in his draft year .Could prove to be a disasterous first overall pick . Will he turn out to be better than Gagner or Eberle , maybe but i wouldn't bank on it . Will he turn out to be the next Sakic, Datsyuk or Gretsky ? Not even a 10 % chance from what i have seen of him . Way over assessed from what i see . We need a big centerman or D man more than taking on another high risk player . I can see us taking a shot at RNHopkins with a second pick possibility , but not our first .

Anyone could be the next Daigle or Stefan or big bust, anyone in this draft could fit that, so you can say it all you want but it is always a chance and I would say RNH has the same shot at being like a Datsyuk as being a Daigle.

Plus "Gretsky"????? Cmon man!!!

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I would be interested in finding out his ES points production VS his PP points.

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#83 striker777
May 08 2011, 02:44PM
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In his draft year (1997, I think). Joe Thornton was 6'3" and 197 lb. Sean Couturier now is 6'4" and 195 lb.

Thornton had 122 point in his draft year. Couturier has 96 points, but I understand he had mono this season. Who knows how many more points he would have had, if he wasn't sick. I like Couturier's game: plays a solid 2-way hockey, wins faceoffs and wins personal battles.

Couturier scored more goals than RNH and I believe he has a better +/-.

I sure hope Tambo is smart enough to trade down and take Couturier. If he makes a trade with Florida and takes away Gudbranson - I'm voting Tambo for the Mayor! next election

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#84 Jaggedstream
May 08 2011, 04:04PM
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I just hope we pick a true # 1 center. How good could Iginla (and the Flames) have been if he actually played with a #1 center? Don't want to be saying that in 15 years about Hall.

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#85 striker777
May 09 2011, 03:36PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I like your Florida idea.....Oilers send the 1st,the 19th and Alex Plante to the Panthers for the 3rd and Gudbranson.

Instead of pick #19 & Plante, insert either Cogliano or Gagne (unfortunately). We all know one of them will be traded, so, why give up our #19 pick or a prospect?

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