Couturier Signs Entry-Level Deal; More Moves on Horizon?

By David Strehle
NHL H
ot Stove Managing Editor

After scoring a goal and assisting on another last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sean Couturier was signed to a three-year entry-level contract by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio reported via Twitter that with performance bonuses, it would be a “$1.375 million cap hit for all 3 years”.

Couturier (Photo by Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

The eighth overall pick in this past summer’s entry draft was slated to be one of the top lottery picks in the 2011 draft, but dropped significantly in the CSB rankings after a bout with mononucleosis. 

Having slid all the way to #8 – a spot in which Holmgren was all-too-happy to select Couturier with the pick obtained from the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with winger Jakub Voracek, in the Jeff Carter deal - Couturier could end up being one of the steals of the draft.

There was a great piece written by Neate Sager for Puck Daddy back in January on Couturier’s mono and the affect on his drafting position.  In the article were some great quotes by the late-E.J. McGuire, who until the time of his passing in April was the Vice President of the CSB:

‘He’s still a little lean,’ McGuire said of Couturier.  ‘He was predicted to be this monster power forward, of a Lindros ilk, and he isn’t…yet.  But, if in a year or two he is, God bless the team that drafts him, whether it is No. 1, 2, 3 or 6.’

” … Couturier missed an earlier date with NHL scouts last summer, as he battled a bout of mononucleosis.

“ ‘Mononucleosis is one of those things that the expert medical scouts say it takes a full year to get back from that,’ McGuire said.  ‘Well, if he falls all the way to No. 6, and somebody grabs him and he does recover more fully from his draft year mononucleosis — I mean, they may have the best player in the draft at No. 6.’ “(via Puck Daddy)

That is some pretty exciting talk, especially from someone as knowledgable as McGuire.  And the kid is beginning to back it up on the ice. 

Last night against the Leafs, Couturier showed a glimmer of his incredible offensive skill set.  On Mike Testwuide’s second period goal he held the puck along the left wing boards, then whipped a perfect pass to Testwuide in the slot.  Testwuide beat Toronto netminder James Reimer with a wrister.

On his own goal early in the third, Couturier just missed the far post with a shot from the slot area.  As the Leafs were attempting to clear the zone, Couturier stole an errant pass in the slot, turned and fired a laser past Reimer to close out the scoring.

The 18-year-old could very well end up being on the Flyers’ opening night roster, but there are some issues that need to be addressed at some point.  Besides the fact that Philadelphia had just $175,000 in cap space prior to the announcement of the pact, there is also the aspect of the amount of player contracts a club can carry.  The maximum number is 50, but the Flyers sit at 52 with Couturier’s deal.

This will likely signal more movement in an already busy summer for GM Paul Holmgren.  In addition to more than likely needing more cap space, two players will probably have to be moved if the plan is for Couturier to stay in Philadelphia all season.

Couturier could begin the year in Philly, but could be sent back to his junior club - the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – before he plays his 11th game with the Flyers, thanks to the NHL’s slide rule.

The Flyers play the Maple Leafs again tonight, this time at Wells Fargo Center.


If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at dstrehle@nhlhotstove.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter – @David_Strehle