Prospect Profiles: Sean Couturier

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Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 197 lbs
Birthdate: December 7, 1992
Age: 18
Hometown: Bathurst, NB
Acquired: 8th overall pick of the 2011 Entry Draft

Sean Couturier is described by scouts as a two-way forward. He has good size, good vision, and good hockey sense. He protects the puck well and has the ability to play in all three zones. He had a solid character and is a competitor. He needs to work on his skating and needs to get stronger.

Scouts took notice of Sean Couturier when he was only 13 years of age. Once considered a hockey prodigy, he was playing outside of his age bracket with 17 year old players as a 13 year old for the Miramichi Rivermen Midget AAA team. Despite the gap in age, he had no problem dominating the league as he finished with 47 points (20 g, 27 a) in 34 games.

The following season he decided to move on to play for the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds Midget AAA team in Seskatchewan to further challenge himself. The young prodigy once again showed his dominance as he scored 19 goals with 37 assists in 40 games.

His play caught the eye of General Managers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was drafted into the league with the 2nd overall pick by the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the 2008 entry draft.

Couturier made his QMJHL debut during the 08-09 season as a 15 year old. Despite his status as a highly touted prospect, he was used in a supporting role due to the depth of the Voltigeurs roster. He spent most of the season playing on the wing and even was used as a defenseman. He only had 31 points (9 g, 22 a) in 58 games, but he received valuable experience as a member of the first place Voltigeurs that went on to win the QMJHL championship. He contributed to the championship run with 1 goal and 7 assists in 19 games.

During the summer of 09 he was tapped to play for team Canada in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He had 2 goals and 2 assists to help Canada capture the gold medal.

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The 09-10 season saw the prodigy emerge. He was moved back to his natural position of center at the start as he was expected to play a bigger role. It was a breakout year for him as he more than tripled his point totals from the previous season. He scored 41 goals and had 55 assists for 96 points in 68 games. He finished first in the league in scoring. It was the first time a 17 year old had led the QMJHL in scoring since Sidney Crosby. Also of note, he was an impressive +62 on the season which led the league in +/-. He was named to the QMJHL’s Second All Star team as the result of his success, but more importantly he put himself into consideration for the #1 prospect of the 2011 Entry Draft.

Prior to the start of his draft season, Couturier came down with a bout of mono which caused him to miss the NHL Development camp late in the summer.

Couturier was considered the early frontrunner for the #1 pick along with defenseman Adam Larsson at the start of the 2010-2011 season. He came under fire at the start of the season when his agent, Gilles Lupien, and the Drummondville Voltiguers decided to restrict his media availability until after the New Year. Some began to question his ability to handle being in the spotlight and the pressure involved with being a top prospect.

Proving his critics wrong, he showed that he was able to handle the spotlight that came with being a top prospect as he had yet another successful year in the QMJHL. Some saw the fact that he finished with 96 points (36 g, 60 a) for the second season as a row as a disappointment, but he did it in ten fewer games (58) than the previous year. His 96 points was good for fourth in QMJHL scoring. The players that finished ahead of him in scoring all played at least 9 more games. He also held the highest point per game average of all CHL draft eligible prospects.

Couturier 1.66 PPG
Strome 1.63 PPG
Nugent-Hopkins 1.54 PPG
Landeskog 1.24 PPG

At the end of the season he won the QMJHL’s Michel Briere Trophy for the Most Valuable Player and the Mike Bossy Trophy for the Best Professional Prospect. He also was named to the First All Star Team.

Couturier also was named to Canada’s U-20 silver medal winning World Junior squad during the winter. He was the youngest member of the team and the only 2011 draft eligible prospect to make Team Canada.

Despite all of his success, Couturier began to slip a bit in the draft rankings.

A scout had this to say to this about him slipping to ESPN Insider’s Gare Joyce:

“We see it practically every year. The kid who has been around the longest gets picked apart. Everybody knows what he can do and then starts looking for holes in his game. That’s how it worked with [Ottawa's Jason] Spezza with everyone slamming him because they had been watching him since he was 15. There were guys who’d tell you that Rick Nash couldn’t play because he wasn’t much of a skater. The kid who comes along late has all the advantages that way.

The late E.J. McGuire also had this to say to the National Post:

“Mononucleosis is one of those things that the expert medical scouts say it takes a full year to get back from that. 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.”

He finished the year ranked 4th by the Hockey News and the International Scouting Service, 5th best forward by Red Line Report, 5th overall by TSN and ESPN, and the 6th North American skater by Central Scouting.