Sean Couturier, Dropping Like A Stone

There are a plethora of scouting reports out there for this summer’s draft, and there isn’t always much agreement between them. One thing they all agree on, however, is that Sean Couturier’s spot on the list keeps getting lower and lower.

Red Line Report puts Couturier in eighth. Central Scouting ranks him sixth among North American skaters. Bob McKenzie has him tabbed as the fifth overall pick in his rankings.

There are concerns about Couturier’s skating. There are concerns that he doesn’t play a physical enough game. He didn’t score enough at the top prospects game or at the world juniors.

I’d be lying if I said those things didn’t concern me. I haven’t watched any QMJHL games this season, so I can’t comment on Couturier beyond what I saw at the World Juniors, where I thought he did what was expected of him as a depth center on the Canadian depth chart. I don’t subscribe to the notion that his performance in that tournament should be held against him; after all, he’s far from the first top prospect to have a lousy World Juniors in his draft year. Jonathan Toews had two lousy assists in his draft year, but he turned out okay. I wonder if Toews’ WJC performance had anything to do with Pittsburgh snagging Jordan Staal ahead of him? So that doesn’t bother me – the tournament is short, and on a team as deep as Canada it can be difficult to do enough to climb the depth chart in six games.

The math loves Couturier. Scouts talk about a lack of progression, but the player has the same number of points this season despite missing 10 games and battling through mono. He was a plus-55 for Drummondville, which is impressive, but it’s more impressive than we realize that outside of regular linemate Ondrej Palat, no other forward was better than plus-18. People talk about Nugent-Hopkins’ two-way game; but somehow it never gets mentioned that he’s not a regular penalty-killer. Couturier is, and he has seven points shorthanded this season. His even-strength numbers are among the best in the draft.

Add to that the fact that Couturier’s 6’4” and wins faceoffs, and it’s hard not to like him.

Would I take Couturier first overall? No. The scouting reports have been too negative, and that deserves some weight here. McKenzie’s ranking strikes me as the most probable; I expect Couturier to go somewhere around fifth overall.

He’s a high-end prospect, a certain top-10 pick, and a player that I’d look long and hard at in Steve Tambellini’s shoes if the Oilers decided to trade down. The latter play is one I’d consider if the return were strong enough.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    For the people that keep bringing up the NYI:

    I’d like to point out that they were significantly better then us this past year and have as bright, if not a brighter future.

  • Clyde Frog

    Secondly, anyone saying you HAVE to draft a defensmen… blah, blah, blah.

    Canucks have according to the pundits the deepest defensive core in the league right now. 2 players were drafted by them, a 5th rounder and a 3rd rounder.

    Only 2 are first round picks, neither of them top 10.

    Just saying…

  • Bucknuck

    Oilers have a plethora of forwards similiar to RNHopkins already , good assist people but not great finishers . Do we require more duplication in those types of forwards to begin with ? I don’t feel it’s necessary or adviseable to do so with such little Hopkins might add over any of the others . Hopkins till recently just started scoring . Coutourier and Landeskop have a better finishing touch and are more physical and have size already . Remember the later two also had injuries or conditions that bought them down some . Even Huberdeau , at same size as Hopkins, appears to be a better finisher at this stage . What GM would pass on Larsson if they had the chance , and risk not taking the next Lidstrom ? If he(Larsson) was up against a Crosby i could see logic to pass on Larsson , but these others are not in that league to be honest .

    I put more faith in T.Hall’s comments and find it hard not to lean towards Landers or Landeskop – seeing as he will be the one that will have to play with one of them . I doubt a healthy Coutourier would not pan out very nicely , as well . The only that doesn’t quite fit the puzzle seems to be Hopkins because he’s not a finisher on same level as some of the others . I know if i’m GM i would not take a chance on passing on what a lot of scouts think of Larsson being the next Lidstrom – just like last year and taking Hall .

    For our requirements i am rating Hopkins No. 4 .

    • Really? The Oilers have a plethora of Centres who have been pegged to be 1st overall selections in their draft years? I didnt realise.

      I guess it was just my imagination that we ended the year with Andrew Cogliano as the 1st line centre and before him we had a combo of Horcoff and Gagner. Certainly then before Gagner was hurt he was celebrated by all of the fanbase as the 1C we’ve been waiting for.

      No?

    • Neilio

      who do the oilers have that is the SAME as RNH? similiar if we are using the small in stature arguement, again. other than that name me a center we have with the skill that RNH has. Gagner is shorter and not the same skill, hemsky can pass but he is a winger, omark winger, cogs not even a comparable, eberle winger, hall winger, mps winger, horcoff…well he’s close i suppose.

      recognizing the point you are making i still believe he is not a duplication of service for the oilers.

  • Ender

    NYI philosophy regardless, I’m going to side with OB1 on this. In the 2011 draft there are roughly 5 different players that could conceivably be referred to as the BPA. If you insist that the ‘Nuge is the best of this year’s crop (and that is the current consensus amoung the scouts) then the next question is “By how much?” There are several drafts to look at where the top 3 or 4 players all proved to be very valuable picks for their teams. In this draft, mathematics dictate that at least a couple of players are going to be selected well below where other teams may rate their ability.

    If the Oilers have their eye on a player or players who they believe will be just as good or better than RNH, and they also have reason to believe that these players will still be available at, say, #4 or #5, and they can get an extra asset for giving someone else to opportunity to pick first, then why wouldn’t they want to have their cake and eat it too?

    It all depends on return, of course, versus how far down you’re willing to go. Would I advocate going down to #5 if the potential extra gain was a second-round pick? No, no I wouldn’t. I would encourage them to move to #5 if they were getting a solid prospect or an extra top-20 pick out of the deal. And honestly, the price for moving down to even #2 here is pretty close to the same as moving down to #5; the optics of leaving RNH on the table to select someone else is a PR minefield, so the element of risk is pretty much the same whether you move down one spot or four.

    For those who want the Oil to draft RNH at all costs, I completely understand why trading down has zero appeal. For those of us, though, who think there are other alternatives that have pretty close to the same value, the idea of trading down a bit has some merit.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    How many 18yr olds don’t have issues/holes in their game, we can find fault in anyone of them if we put the magnifying glass on them.

    We need to beg borrow or steal our way into a second top seven pick and take RNH and whoevers left in that 6-7 spot….Couturier,Huberdeau,Strome or Landeskog. May help soften the blow if NuHo goes back to Red Deer, if we’re so fortunate, the second kid stays. If there isn’t a near fit with one of these kids come October, i think we’ll all be watching Taylor Hall as the Oilers No.1 center by the end of next season.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I’d have to think going 1st overall and not making that step to the NHL would present a bit of a hurdle. How often does the first overall pick not make it on a cellar dwelling team?

        I’m sure the kid does have something that resembles an ego, it could be a tough sell on the Oilers part.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          You are originaly talking about softening the blow for the fan base though.

          It’s a good point though and highlights the damage we as fans have done and will continue to do with our unrealistic expectations we put on young players.

        • We’re all assuming he wont make it because of his size and that’s it. No other reason. If I recall correctly it was a major concern for Stamkos by his then Coach, but he made it. Even Skinner was looked at as a shorter skinny kid at the beginning of the year. He’s currently outperformed the “NHL Ready”* Taylor Hall and is a Calder finalist.

          There’s no inherent reason why RNH cant play next year, even as a slight player.

          *Hall WAS NHL ready, but apparently so was the short skinny kid that looked like he was 12.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Clarifying – We have several set up men already in lineup , but not a lot of good finishers in other words irregardless of position or when taken in draft . I just assumed you knew that – your reading more into my comments than was actually there to begin with .

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Set up men or potential set up men:

      Hemsky/Gagner/Omark

      Finishers or potential finishers: Hall/MPS

      quasi mix: Eberle

      I wouldn’t be too worried about it at this point.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I would worry so long as we remain near bottom of league in both scoring , special teams and goals against . What year will you be worried – is two years in a row at bottom of league taught us anything yet ?? Has having a plethora of diminutive forwards taught us anything yet other than 30th spot in standings for 2 subsequent seasons ? What chances are there that our management can make any trades , etc . to make us more competitive to be honest , or has 5 years going in reverse taught us anything there as yet ?

        Are you oblivious as to why we are getting results that keep us mirred in basement of league ? I think it is very obvious – we have to build a team to complete on a level playing field (ice) within our own division for starters , and we are obviously not close to that as yet . For whatever odd reason(s) many of you think we are .

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Ya we aren’t talking about the team as a whole, were talking about playmakers vs goal scorers.

          The team is in horrific shape with holes all over the line-up, however how many goal scores vs how many playmakers is about 24th on the list of what needs to be addressed (and considering Hemsky has a decent chance being on a different team sometime in the next 15 months, it isn’t really out of whack at all.)

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    People should really stop talking about trading down in this years draft. It pretty well impossible to draft perfectly, and bat 1.000 with such young players. To the point that it’s not really worth talking about. How many people would take Skinner at 9 today. All of them. How many take him above Hall? Maybe 50/50 split; above Tyler Seg? All of them. If you came to me last year and said we should trade #1 to get 3 & 9, I would have snapped. Would it have been great in hindsight, yes. Is it more likely that it blows up in your face, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I want a second pick in the top 7 like Charlie Sheen needs… (insert blank) on a Friday night, but trading down is one of the worst thing you can do IMO. Take your shot at the BPA’s on your list in that order, but don’t foolishly assume your scout’s crystal ball is that much better than other scouts around the league so that you can attempt to play God and get Skinner at 9 every time. The Oilers have done that in the past and without fail it has made us a worse team for it. Carolina isn’t smarter, they just hit a ten vs. a dealers six with a loaded deck count in blackjack. Luck is luck, leave it at that.

  • Neilio

    Its kind of early to be assessing winners and losers from last year’s draft. Seguin might well end up the better player than Skinner. Maybe.

    I have no doubt that Hall will. Its got something to do with the team you play on. Put Skinner on our team and he’s not scoring like that.

  • Bucknuck

    I have been reading a lot of posts commenting that the Oilers should consider trading down to gain an asset and still secure a top 10. Is there any recent examples of other NHL teams with lottery or top 10 picks who have done so? I imagine it is a lot more difficult to do than some may think.

    • Garth Snow did it in 2008.

      He took himself out of a position to draft Luke Schenn 5th overall, he took Josh Bailey 9th and got a 2nd rounder that I think turned into Hamonic.

      Hamonic looks like a player, but Bailey is treading ever closely to bust territory. Trust me, if anyone thinks Gagner has underperformed then Bailey by the same standards is a no-show.

      The 1st 3 picks that they took in 2008 are either failures or havent played a minute of pro-hockey yet and they lucked out with their 4th selection. Thankfully for them defensemen are still pretty unpredictable at 18 and that 2nd rounder (Hamonic) might turn out to be better than the guy taken 5th overall.

    • I’d like to see the Oilers to get two top ten picks any way they can. It would be easier to do so by trading down but I would recommend against it. Here’s why.

      I did a little research on how many times any team had more than one pick in the top 10 of any draft. Apparently it has happened 25 times.

      1963-69: 3 times; MTL twice and BOS once.

      1970-79: 7 times; MTL 3 times, PHI twice, with BOS and TOR each once.

      1980-89: 6 times; BUF and LAK twice each, and MTL and PIT once each.

      1990-99: 7 times; NYI twice with BOS, EDM (Bonsignore ouch and R.Smyth), NYR, SJS, and VAN once.

      2000-2010: 2 times; NYI once and FLA once.

      Of the two times in the last decade that an NHL team has had two top ten picks in the draft, once was due to ‘trading down’ and once was due to ‘trading up’.

      In 2000, the NYI traded Kevin Weekes (36GP 10W 20L 3.41GAA that year), Kristian Kudroc (who hadn’t played an NHL game up to that point but who would ultimately appear in 26 games in his career), and the 2001 #31 overall pick (which turned out to be M. Spiller who would play 68 NHL games).

      TO TBL FOR

      #5 overall pick in 2000 (Raffi Friggin Torres), the #105 overall pick (V. Gorbunov – now 0 NHL games played total), and the #202 overall pick (R. Caldwell – 4 GP up to this point).

      In other words, NYI traded Kevin Weekes and crap for Raffi Torres and crap. That year, the NYI already had the first overall pick so in the end they picked at #1 and #5. That was ‘trading up’. If only Tambellini could trade a goaltender and a second rounder for a #5 pick in the 2011 draft.

      The ‘trading down’ occured with FLA in 2002. That year FLA traded the #1 overall pick (which ended up being Rick Freakin Nash) to CLB for their #3 (which became Jay Bouwmeester) and the option to switch first round picks in 2003.

      FLA picked #3 that year (Bouwmeester) and also at #9 (Petr Taticek – 3 NHL GP in his career).

      In conclusion, it is extremely unlikely that EDM will have two top 10 picks this upcoming draft, as it has only happened twice in the last decade. If they somehow do however, I hope they do it by ‘trading up’ and keeping their #1 overall pick, and not by dropping down and letting Rick Nash go in order to get Jay Bouwmeester and Petr Taticek.

      Message #99 [STOP]

  • Can somebody give me an opinion as a non Oiler fan on this. I don’t think any team in the top 5 besides NJ would have any desire for Hemsky, am I wrong here? I would even argue not many in the top 10 would, I just don’t see a team trading a top 5 pick for an injured UFA, I think Hesmky is a great player but I don’t see it happening. Am I wrong?

    • Bucknuck

      I am obviously not a non-oiler fan, but I have an opinion. I actually think Oiler fans undervalue Hemsky rather than overvalue him. A comparable player would be Marian Gaborick the year he turned into a UFA.

      He’s a year older than Hemsky, so the age at that time is pretty close. Both were often injured, both flirt with the point per game stat (though Gabby’s best season to the point was six points better than Hemsky’s best season) Both have high entertainment value and both have the ability to dominate games at times. They are even about the same size.

      I would imagine that is the comparable that his agent would use, anyways. He isn’t quite there but’s it’s pretty close. I will say that Hemsky has proven that he can deliver in the playoffs, where Gaborick has not. Also Gaborick had scored 40 goals in a season at that pont, but Hemsky is more of a playmaker.

      What value would you place on Gaborick? How about if his cap hit was three million less? That might be a way to look at it.

      • Bucknuck

        Thats a good comparison, I never thought have that. I valued Hemsky crazy high and the last few years turned it down so I was wondering what a non Oiler fan though of him as a player and value. I think he has value still Im not saying that but I just don’t think a rebuilding team like Florida and Colorado would trade a top 5 pick for him and LAs pick.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I can’t see anyway we could get a top 10 pick for him straight up (let alone top 5).

          If he consistantly played 70+ games and had 4-5 years left on his contract then sure, but not now.

          As a comparable, a few years ago both Mike Cammilari (SP) and Alex Tanguay were traded for a pick in the mid 20’s (and a later pick I think) when they had one year left on thier contract.

          that said, Hemsky + LA pick (depending where it ends up) could probably get us in the 10 range.

    • Bucknuck

      I don’t disagree with you… completely. I feel that NJ would make this trade, but not straight up. I think Hemmer + Cap Relief are the two main ingredients here. A team up against the cap, looking at signing a big name player has some serious desire to get cheaper. And, if they can get cheaper while getting better (Hemmer on a value contract) in the process that will go along way towards being a contender. Plus they have the added benefit that although he has injury concerns, he is a UFA, thus they aren’t trapped. With Brodeur at his current stage in career, ones gotta believe with the signing of a Kovy, they’re looking at contending very soon. As in next year soon. And with the run they had in the second half, without Parise, they might not be that far off. Hemmer + 19th and + a cogs or Martindale (decent young prospect helps the lose of the 4th) = 4th and a bad contract. Some might say over pay by the Oilers, but we are loaded with prospects. Having a log jam at line 3 isn’t going to help us win. We need to get quality over quantity. Jersey in losing a pick for signing Kovy, needs to off set this with more picks/prospects and win now. I don’t see a down side to either team. Personally I’d use both pics we get 1, and 4 on forwards. Be sure one works out and if they both do, we’re Pit’s down the middle. Both great things.

      • Bucknuck

        I was just thinking of this the Other day as well if we moved up and inside the top 7, I would make an argument to take RNH and Couturier or Strome. Obviously RNH and Hamilton would be amazing as well but I think having the two centers and having them compete for #1 C and the other falling in at #2 would be a good look for the top 2 lines, Horcs fills that solid #3 (grossly overpaid #3 but oh well I like what he brings) and once these two centers come in and prove they can play ship Gagner out for a dman or move him to the wing.

  • Bucknuck

    If Stu can’t choose amongst three players (i.e. it’s a toss up) then why not trade down. I would rather they traded up with the LA pick but as long as the GM is consulting closely with Stu then whatever.

    There’s nothing to get worked up about.

  • Bucknuck

    Just wanted to weigh in of the no clear #1 this year. As of now, I think that there is a clear #1. RNH is #1 for the CSS and ISS. Also, he was #1 with Bob, and 6/10 of the scouts Bob talked to had RNH as #1 (Larsson had 2 #1 votes, Landeskog had 2 #1 votes). Comparatively, Hall had 7/10 from Bob last year, was #1 for the ISS and #2 for the CSS.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I never said otherwise.

          I didn’t follow the Stamkos draft that closely, but I think trading down from 1 to 2 last year (even though I didn’t personally want to do it) had merit.

          Refering back to the little value chart I made up. I’d considering dropping 1 to 2 last year because I didn’t see a huge drop in quality of prospect, but I wouldn’t drop from 1 to 3 (unless the return was just too good to pass up)

          Now for this year, not only do I think their isn’t a big drop from #1 to #2, I don’t think thiers a big drop from 1 to 4 (and maybe even from 1 to 6) so I’d be open to moving down

  • Ender

    The Oilers still lack an true #1 centre. Maybe Sam Gagner is that guy, but not close to being a number 1 yet.

    You skill and depth at centre to win. Look at the Thrashers who had Kovalchuk and Hossa. Look at the Flames who have Iginla. Look at Columbus who have Nash. These guys are or were perennial playoff bubble teams because they didnt’ have the centres to go anywhere.

    I was so excited aboutt he prospect of drafting Couturier at the beginning of the year. A centre with size with a dad who is a coach in the Q, so Sean learned to do everything by the book. Unfortunately, in every opportunity to play against peers of similar talent, he was always overshadowed. Be it the WJC or the Prospects Game. I would be a mistake to draft Couturier at #1.

  • O.C.

    Hmmm Vancouver picked a couple pretty good players at around 3 and 4 or was it 4 and 5.

    If this is not a slam dunk number one, and you can change things from 1 and 18 to 3 and 4 and you get Landeskog and Couturier, that’s bad?

    Is RNH and some career minor leaguer (or Larsson and some career minor leaguer) better?

    I dunno. I don’t think so.

    • Right you are. Given that it is one of the more famous times when a team had two top 10 picks, I can’t believe I left it out. It was 1999, and VAN picked #2 D. Sedin and #3 H.Sedin. Atlanta picked Patrik Stefan #1 overall.

      And Burke (GM of VAN at the time) got the twins by ‘trading up’, not by getting rid of their #1 and ‘trading down’. They started with the #3 pick and through a convoluted series of trades they ended with the #2 pick as well. It was a trade up, not a trade down.