After a brief break during the postseason, “Flashback Friday” is back and slightly switching its gears. For the next two months or so, we will be revisiting Philadelphia Flyers draft selections from yesteryear. A handful will make you smile while others will make you frown. There might even be a few where the verdict is still out.
We begin our journey in round one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft…
In a deal that sent Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets, the Flyers received Jakub Voracek and Columbus’s first and third picks in 2011. The newly acquired first-round draft pick put Philadelphia in a position to select eighth-overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. With that pick, Paul Holmgren chose a center from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, Sean Couturier.
Drummondville selected Couturier second-overall in the 2008 QMJHL Entry Draft after the Moncton Wildcats took the defenseman, Brandon Gormley, with the first pick. Couturier started his tenure with the Voltigeurs in the 2008-09 season, helping them to their first President’s Cup. The following season, he led the entire QMJHL in points with 96, winning the Jean Beliveau Trophy. Despite being diagnosed with mononucleosis during the offseason, Couturier put forth another fantastic effort in 2010-11, recording 96 points for the second straight year. Additionally, he was awarded Michel Briere Trophy as the league MVP and the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect in the QMJHL.
In his first training camp with the Flyers, Couturier made an immediate impression, earning a spot on Philadelphia’s roster to start the 2011-12 regular season. He recorded his first point in his third game, assisting on a Voracek goal against the Vancouver Canucks. Two games later, he could score his first NHL goal against the Ottawa Senators. Couturier finished the regular season with 13 goals and 14 assists in 77 games.
During the Flyers first-round playoff series in 2012 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the young Couturier was tasked with matching up against Evgeni Malkin, winner of the Art Ross Trophy that season. He did a stellar job, holding Malkin to one even-strength point while he was on the ice. Couturier also recorded his first career hat-trick and became the second-youngest player to post a hat-trick in a playoff game.
Through his first seven years in Philadelphia, Couturier has always demonstrated that he is a very skillful two-way center. However, until this season, the offensive numbers were not there. Before 2017-18, Couturier had a career-high point total of 39. This year, he posted 31 goals and 45 assists on the Flyers top line, making him a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Though it was a short sample size, Couturier was the Flyers best player this postseason. Carrying the team on his back with a torn MCL. He has proven to be not only a leader on the scoresheet for Philadelphia but in the locker room as well. If more players follow his lead, the orange and black will be full of individuals willing to sacrifice it all on the ice for years to come.
There is always a sense of uncertainty with every draft pick. Even if the scouting report is solid, anything can happen. It is indeed safe to say that the Philadelphia Flyers hit a home run drafting Sean Couturier eighth-overall in 2011.