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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#1 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 04:21PM
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i would rather have couturier than huberdeau but too bad SC couldn't make it farther into the CHL playoff picture... and it really seems that they aren't leaning towards picking SC as #1 overall

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#2 Jdgrahn
May 06 2011, 04:21PM
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I blew my chance while taking a big slug of Sprite.

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#3 Tha Legion
May 06 2011, 04:22PM
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Still my puck

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#4 KB
May 06 2011, 04:23PM
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These are great articles. All of Stu's comments so far, in my opinion, seem to be pointing towards RNH as the guy (or Larsson, I suppose, since that article has yet to be posted). But, I'll wait for the RNH article to see what Stu has to say about him.

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#5 Jdgrahn
May 06 2011, 04:24PM
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My gut is telling me that the oilers are going to draft Sean

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#7 RobD
May 06 2011, 04:29PM
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Robin in all fairness to Stu, I don't know how much more praise any of the other top prospects in this draft are going to get. I mean there's no "Elite" level talent in this draft, and his only negative for Couturier was speed. Which can easily be improved. With that being said I think if the oiler scouts see Couturier as a 1st line center, and they see RNH as a 1st line center they'll take Couturier just because he fits the team more then RNH if all other things are equal.

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#8 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 04:35PM
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@RobD

derrick bassard is a #1 center in CBJ, sidney crosby is a #1 center for the penguins do you see a difference in #1 centers?

you can't just pick the "bigger" guy based on projected slot. skill is a larger factor for drafting a player.

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#9 I tried it at home
May 06 2011, 04:37PM
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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

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#10 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 04:39PM
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@I tried it at home

where do you read "physical"? couturier is as physical as penner.

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#11 Sox and Oil
May 06 2011, 04:40PM
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I'd be very happy if ST called Sean's name 1st overall. If the big thing holding him back is speed that can be worked on. Remember speed was lacking from Eberle's game as well. If the other area is a lack of 'toughness' who's really going to try and convince me that RNH is a 'tougher' option.

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#12 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 04:51PM
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@ Sox and Oil

I believe the word is competing. Toughness is a word that’s used interchangeable. In my opinion, I believe watching both players is that completive level is not the same.

Having said that I only watched SC during the WJC which by no means is enough, but I got to watch RNH a lot, and was hands down much more competitive.

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#13 sr cain
May 06 2011, 04:55PM
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Im so confused, Im not even sure I really know who I want the Oilers to take. Im betting it will be a bit of a surprise, and it will be SC.

Sn

I wonder if MacT could land in Washington? Assuming they let Boudreau go.

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#14 andrewmk20
May 06 2011, 04:56PM
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@Mantastic

maybe physical is the wrong term but couturier is not just willing to go to the tough areas like the other top forwards in this draft but he is more importantly able to do so at 6'4 197. I watched the WJ and he was very exceptional at keeping the play alive and was great at the spadework along the boards. Reminds me more of Jordan Staal than Eric because he's not quite as offensively gifted but the Oilers already have offensively gifted forwards. A strong two way center would help this team a lot as Horcoff is now a diminishing asset due to age and injuries.

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#15 RobD
May 06 2011, 04:57PM
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@Mantastic

Brassard would be classified as a 2nd line center by most people even though he may have been playing top line minutes in Columbus(which if I'm not mistaken he wasn't as that was Umberger's job), Crosby is widely considered as the best or second best player in the world. How about when you use comparables you use guys that are somewhat close in terms of skill. RNH at his top end is a Statsny like player, Couturier at his top end is a Lecavalier type player. Which player do you pick first overall? Which player fits our rebuild the best considering our core of MPS, Gagner, Hall, Whitney, Hemsky, Eberle?

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#16 mayorpoop
May 06 2011, 04:59PM
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Mantastic wrote:

where do you read "physical"? couturier is as physical as penner.

i would agree with this only based on watching at WJ's. Jayden Schwartz played bigger than SC to me, disconcerting at the least.

Very small sample size indeed.

Wasn't there already a thread on RNH?

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#17 Quicksilver ballet
May 06 2011, 05:00PM
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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.

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I'm officially removing one question mark from my display name. "???" -> "??"

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#19 Smokey
May 06 2011, 05:04PM
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He'll look good in Long Island or Florida, were getting the NUGE.

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#20 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 05:06PM
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@andrewmk20

i think it's safe to say, any of the top 5 of this years draft class is willing to go into the tough areas to fish out the puck.

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#21 YFC Prez
May 06 2011, 05:07PM
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Who do you pass up on. The Nuge or Couturier. I personally want either of these 2 players come draft day and am very glad that the oil have a very capable man making the decision. I imagine both Hopkins and Couturier will be 1st line C in their careers but have no idea who will be better, just please draft a center with the 1st pick.

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#22 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 05:07PM
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@RobD

he was still projected as a top line center. i'm not comparing them to any of those players but just mentioning the fact that there are a lot of projected top line centers and you can't just choose one based on the fact one is larger then another.

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#23 dawgbone
May 06 2011, 05:13PM
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Mantastic wrote:

where do you read "physical"? couturier is as physical as penner.

Just because he doesn't run players through the baords doesn't mean he isn't physical.

He constantly engages in puck battles and uses his size and strength to win them... very similar to how Joe Thorton plays.

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#24 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 05:13PM
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I just don’t like the players in the QMJHL. I just think it’s an inferior league to the rest of the MJ programs.

There has to be another reason other then foot speed as to why SC fell so far. Intensity? Compete level? Who knows, but do you risk a 1st overall selection on a player because he’s 6’4 and good along the boards? We had a guy like that, big George! Or worse maybe a Bonsignore type.

I think the Oilers like what they see in RNH, from what I have read he’s equal to everything SC but has those other intangibles the Oilers are looking for.

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#25 Bumboclate
May 06 2011, 05:13PM
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I think that SC game kinda reminds me of Joe Thornton. Boy could edmonton use one of those!

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#26 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 05:14PM
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@dawgbone

like i said as physical as penner.

omark also constantly engages in puck battles and wins not because of his size

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#27 @Oilanderp
May 06 2011, 05:17PM
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The longer this goes on the more I too wish Tamby would do what he has to do to get both SC and RNH. I can't bear the thought of passing on either of them.

The question is, who do we trade with and what do we have to give up to make it happen?

*sigh* This is going to be a looong summer.

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#28 RobD
May 06 2011, 05:20PM
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@Mantastic

In my original post I stated that if the Oilers see them both as 1st line centers(comparable upsides) they'll take the one who is bigger. I think its safe to say no one ever thought Brassard would have the same upside as Crosby.

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#29 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 05:25PM
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@RobD

you said that if the oilers both seem them #1 centers and didn't mention anything about equal upside.

regardless no one is ever equal or is treated equal. something is always going to outweigh something else. these kids are completely different in the way that they play and even though they are both projected at #1 C's in the league it doesn't mean they are equal (reference my crosby comparasion)

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#30 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 05:27PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

The longer this goes on the more I too wish Tamby would do what he has to do to get both SC and RNH. I can't bear the thought of passing on either of them.

The question is, who do we trade with and what do we have to give up to make it happen?

*sigh* This is going to be a looong summer.

I've said along that the Oilers should try and get into the top 5 via trade and L.A's 1st overall pick.

Pick up RNH and Landeskog.

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#31 RobD
May 06 2011, 05:27PM
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@ Wes Mantooth

When the SeaDogs win the memorial cup are you still going to call the league inferior? Like it or not the QMJHL for the size of the league produces a heck of a lot of top tier talents when compared to other leagues.

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#32 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 05:32PM
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@RobD

Like who? and try not to say Crosby.

There league is watered down, by that I mean there is only a half dozen or so teams that are stacked. the rest is just filled with average players.

Now, I dont follow it as much as I do the OHL or the dub but IMHO it's not even close.

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#33 OILERSORDEATH
May 06 2011, 05:33PM
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Should be a great game tonight at the RG! Possible future Oiler Joe Morrow or Wotherspoon takin on the Koot Ice. Got great seats for both games! I can tell you right now Morrow is a pimp skater with great vision.

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#34 dawgbone
May 06 2011, 05:34PM
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@Mantastic

And you said so in a derogatory way.

There are very few high quality offensive players who play the bang and crash game. That doesn't mean they aren't physical though.

Omark may constantly engage and win puck battles but he goes about it in a different way. He uses speed and shifty movements and a low centre of gravity to protect the puck. Couturier works along the boards and uses his size to leverage opposing players away from the puck and uses his size to create space and protect it.

The notion that because he's 6'4 that he should be running through everyone doesn't make sense... there's virtually no high quality offensive players who do that (the rare exception being Ovechkin).

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#35 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 05:40PM
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@dawgbone

how the hell did i say it in a derogatory way? could you tell by the sound of my voice? or the way i stroked the keys while i was typing? or even in the contexted of the statment? did i, in anyway, put down penner while i was at it?

you perceived me saying it in a derogatory way, it could easily be read both ways.

you can look at getz and perry for a good example and that they are highly offensive and physical, not running people though the boards but clearly play in a physical way, you can't say the same with thorton

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#36 dawgbone
May 06 2011, 05:42PM
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Wes Mantooth wrote:

Like who? and try not to say Crosby.

There league is watered down, by that I mean there is only a half dozen or so teams that are stacked. the rest is just filled with average players.

Now, I dont follow it as much as I do the OHL or the dub but IMHO it's not even close.

Why wouldn't you say Crosby?

Out of the top 30 scoring forwards in the NHL this year 2 were from the WHL (Getlzaf & Iginla), 7 were from the QMJHL (Richards, Lecavalier, Giroux, Briere, Crosby, Tanguay & Ribeiro) and 9 were from the OHL (Carter, Duchesne, Tavares, Thornton, Kane, Staal, Stamkos, Perry & Ryan)

There are plenty of good players from the Q and it's about on par with the base of players they have to draw from.

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#37 dawgbone
May 06 2011, 05:44PM
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The fact that you questioned him being physical in the first place...

"where do you read "physical"? couturier is as physical as penner."

Generally that type of statement isn't expressed when you agree with the notion that someone else put forward.

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#38 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 05:53PM
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dawgbone wrote:

Why wouldn't you say Crosby?

Out of the top 30 scoring forwards in the NHL this year 2 were from the WHL (Getlzaf & Iginla), 7 were from the QMJHL (Richards, Lecavalier, Giroux, Briere, Crosby, Tanguay & Ribeiro) and 9 were from the OHL (Carter, Duchesne, Tavares, Thornton, Kane, Staal, Stamkos, Perry & Ryan)

There are plenty of good players from the Q and it's about on par with the base of players they have to draw from.

Crosby's the exception to the rule here. He's in a class all by himself and really can’t be compared to players in the league right now, maybe a couple but that’s it. Having said the IMO the Q is with the exception of a few teams is generally watered down, less of talent pool then the OHL and the Dub is what I mean, you can take the top end talent and show me the comparisons but after that it gets pretty weak. The players you mentioned with the exception of crosby whom would take on your list?

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#40 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 06:17PM
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@ R.B

Why did SC take such a dive with the scout’s? It can’t be just foot speed can it?

What does the scouts really not like that’s not being told here? He did drop in everyone's rankings did he not? Or is that just a monkey see kind of thing?

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#41 GorillazXL
May 06 2011, 06:19PM
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@RobinBrownlee Would you be all gushy over a prospect you hope to pick? I think having a moderate response is a good thing, so that you're not giving away who you want to pick. This leaves room for negotiation. Heck even if it was Crosby at number one, if I were the GM I would entertain offers, you would be foolish not to.

GXL

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#42 Mantastic
May 06 2011, 06:34PM
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@dawgbone

how is that derogatory? because i said where do you READ physical?

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#44 NastyNate
May 06 2011, 06:46PM
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@RobD

4 team froms the Q have won the mem cup since 1990. Every league produces quality players that is a given, but as for highly touted top end talent the Q produces less than the WHL and OHL. Outside of Crosby and Lecav there have been limited numbers of high end draft picks (top 10s) who turn out to be Elite players.

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#45 Sox and Oil
May 06 2011, 06:48PM
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Wes Mantooth wrote:

@ R.B

Why did SC take such a dive with the scout’s? It can’t be just foot speed can it?

What does the scouts really not like that’s not being told here? He did drop in everyone's rankings did he not? Or is that just a monkey see kind of thing?

I'm not a scout but I think part of the ranking drop is because so many other players (RNH, Lande, Huberdeau, Strome) improved their game so much this season over last. Scouts love to see improvement. Unfortunately SC didn't have a dramatically better year this year than last, he had 2 back to back great years (man why would we want a consistent player). SC did win Player of the year for the Q and Top Prospect. But when other players move up some have to go down.

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#46 Quicksilver ballet
May 06 2011, 06:48PM
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@Robin Brownlee

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?

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#47 Word
May 06 2011, 06:52PM
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Sox and Oil wrote:

I'd be very happy if ST called Sean's name 1st overall. If the big thing holding him back is speed that can be worked on. Remember speed was lacking from Eberle's game as well. If the other area is a lack of 'toughness' who's really going to try and convince me that RNH is a 'tougher' option.

If ST calls him 1st overall, I think it's a missed opportunity to trade down. Even if it's a negligible trade, I think the media signs point to Couturier going other than #1, and the Oilers should trade down to at least 3rd if he's tops on their radar.

Worst case scenario, he goes 1str, they take either of RNH or Larsson and pretend that was the plan. Best case, they get Couturier and a pick/player and claim that was the plan. Management needs to start taking SMB's advice and working tactic's into the selection on an ambiguous draft with any of 3 players being the "best" available.

I say "best case" presuming SMB thinks Couturier is the fit; and that's with no knowledge or talent on my part judging prospects.

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#48 Wes Mantooth
May 06 2011, 06:57PM
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@ Sox and Oil

Thanks, Makes sense.

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#49 Sox and Oil
May 06 2011, 06:57PM
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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.

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#50 Evilas
May 06 2011, 07:06PM
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How about RNH with the first pick, SC, by trading LA's pick and next yr's 2nd round pick to NJ???? We need them both!!!

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