Sean Couturier has been sliding down nearly everyone's draft boards since September of 2010. TSN's pre-season rankings had Couturier in a dead heat for first with Adam Larsson but by mid-season, Couturier slipped to 4th. ISS has Couturier ranked 4th, while the craziness continues for Craig Button - he's got Couturier ranked 6th. The Scouting Report went against the trend - moving Couturier up to 2nd in their mid-season rankings, up one spot from 3rd in their pre-season rankings.
Couturier put up an outstanding season for the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL this season, winning the league's Michel-Brière Trophy for Most Valuable Player. His Voltigeurs swept through the first round of the Q playoffs with Couturier leading the way. He was the only first-year draft-eligible player to make the Canadian World Junior Roster. All of his arrows are pointing up, so why is he dropping? It's the always-nebulous intangibles that are doing him in. Hustle, hitting, determination, grit -- these words are now popping up in discussions and articles about Couturier and nearly every time, the article is about Couturier lacking these things.
After the jump, I'll look at the statistics behind Couturier's outstanding season and demonstrate that the 6'4" 195 lb center might have a lock on the #1 overall spot.The QMJHL conveniently tracks faceoffs taken and faceoffs won on each game sheet and compiles the numbers in their "skaters" category. Couturier and center Marc-Olivier Vachon combined to take 2747 of Drummondville's 4600+ faceoffs. Couturier was second in the league in faceoffs per game.
|Philip-Michaël Devos||Gatineau Olympiques||68||964||1763||0.547||25.926|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||58||778||1430||0.544||24.655|
|Alex Saulnier||Moncton Wildcats||65||782||1481||0.528||22.785|
|Marc-Olivier Vachon||Drummondville Voltigeurs||59||757||1317||0.575||22.322|
|Jérémy Gouchie||Montréal Juniors||66||824||1445||0.570||21.894|
|Jean-Gabriel Pageau||Gatineau Olympiques||67||800||1431||0.559||21.358|
|Michael Chaput||Lewiston MAINEiacs||62||746||1324||0.563||21.355|
|Joël Champagne||Québec Remparts||68||879||1435||0.613||21.103|
|Philippe Maillet||Victoriaville Tigres||67||652||1382||0.472||20.627|
|Alexandre Touchette||Val-d'Or Foreurs||37||392||753||0.521||20.351|
Couturier's .544 faceoff percentage ranked 28th in the league. Incidentally, Joël Champagne, a former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, led the league in faceoff percentage at .613. The Maple Leafs have relinquished their rights to Champagne, a 6'4" center, and the Oilers may want to explore signing him to a free agent contract. Couturier excelled in the faceoff circle as an 18-year-old, something the 20-somethings roving center ice at Rexall have yet to do and may never do.
Couturier's ability to generate his own offense was one of the reasons he was added Team Canada for the World Junior Championships. That ability is reflected in his shots totals.
|Louis Leblanc||Montréal Juniors||C||51||240||4.706|
|Brandon Hynes||Victoriaville Tigres||RW||66||303||4.591|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||LW||61||263||4.311|
|Marek Hrivik||Moncton Wildcats||LW||59||250||4.237|
|Jonathan Audy-Marchessault||Québec Remparts||C||68||265||3.897|
|David Gilbert||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||C||52||202||3.885|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||C||58||223||3.845|
|Guillaume Goulet||Victoriaville Tigres||RW||59||225||3.814|
|Michaël Bournival||Shawinigan Cataractes||C||56||212||3.786|
|Michael Kirkpatrick||Saint John Sea Dogs||C||63||238||3.778|
Even though Montreal Canadiens draft pick Louis Leblanc stood out, it was Couturier who led all first-time draft-eligible players with 3.845 shots per game. Saint John Sea Dog Zack Phillips averaged 3.433 and teammate Jonathan Huberdeau, a late riser in the rankings and yet another possible top five pick averaged 3.015 shots per game.
The QMJHL is widely believed to be the inferior CHL league, but there is an area in which the league outpaces the OHL and WHL, even the NHL, and that's in tracking scoring chances. Each QMJHL game sheet contains a column titled "DS". DS is the scorer's notation for Dangerous Shots, i.e. scoring chances. Couturier once again excelled in this category.
|Michael Kirkpatrick||Saint John Sea Dogs||C||63||184||2.921|
|Étienne Brodeur||Lewiston MAINEiacs||LW||68||194||2.853|
|Marek Hrivik||Moncton Wildcats||LW||59||158||2.678|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||LW||61||161||2.639|
|Trevor Parkes||Montréal Juniors||RW||60||146||2.433|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Saint John Sea Dogs||C||67||162||2.418|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||C||58||138||2.379|
|Samuel Morneau||PEI Rocket||LW||67||155||2.313|
|Louis Leblanc||Montréal Juniors||C||51||112||2.196|
|Jonathan Hazen||Val-d'Or Foreurs||RW||62||136||2.194|
The Sea Dogs machine catches up with Couturier as Huberdeau slightly outpaces him in the scoring chances metric
What about scoring chances as a percentage of the team total? Couturier is superior.
|Name||Team||Pos||DS||DS/G||Team DS||% of Team|
|Marek Hrivik||Moncton Wildcats||LW||158||2.678||989||0.160|
|Jonathan Hazen||Val-d'Or Foreurs||RW||136||2.194||889||0.153|
|Étienne Brodeur||Lewiston MAINEiacs||LW||194||2.853||1334||0.145|
|Carl Gélinas||Halifax Mooseheads||LW||140||2.059||971||0.144|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||LW||161||2.639||1233||0.131|
|Jonathan Marchessault||Québec Remparts||C||120||1.765||923||0.130|
|Félix Lefrançois||Rimouski Océanic||C||117||1.800||910||0.129|
|Devon MacAusland||Moncton Wildcats||C||123||1.809||989||0.124|
|Michael Kirkpatrick||Saint John Sea Dogs||C||184||2.921||1490||0.123|
|Brandon Hynes||Victoriaville Tigres||RW||128||1.939||1037||0.123|
|Guillaume Asselin||Chicoutimi Saguenéens||RW||110||1.667||898||0.122|
|Trevor Parkes||Montréal Juniors||RW||146||2.433||1217||0.120|
|Sébastien Trudeau||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||RW||125||1.838||1058||0.118|
|Yanni Gourde||Victoriaville Tigres||C||122||1.794||1037||0.118|
|Logan Shaw||Cape Breton Screaming Eagle||RW||99||1.456||866||0.114|
|Martin Frk||Halifax Mooseheads||RW||110||1.774||971||0.113|
|Zach O'Brien||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||RW||119||2.052||1058||0.112|
|Jean-Gabriel Pageau||Gatineau Olympiques||C||139||2.075||1237||0.112|
|Benjamin Casavant||Shawinigan Cataractes||LW||121||1.779||1079||0.112|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||C||138||2.379||1233||0.112|
Couturier ranked 20th in the QMJHL. Note the player just in front of him at .113 - Martin Frk. Frk, the talented Czech who will be draft eligible and maybe the prize of the draft in 2012, is already capable of carrying a CHL team. Couturier is well clear of the Saint John players by this metric.
Couturier is not just a setup man - he's an excellent goal scorer as well.
|Étienne Brodeur||Lewiston MAINEiacs||68||53||30||83||0.779|
|Tye McGinn||Gatineau Olympiques||42||31||33||64||0.738|
|Philip-Michaël Devos||Gatineau Olympiques||68||47||67||114||0.691|
|Jonathan Hazen||Val-d'Or Foreurs||62||41||42||83||0.661|
|Marek Hrivik||Moncton Wildcats||59||38||41||79||0.644|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Saint John Sea Dogs||67||43||62||105||0.642|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||61||39||57||96||0.639|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||58||36||60||96||0.621|
|Jonathan Lessard||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||62||37||29||66||0.597|
|Jonathan Marchessault||Québec Remparts||68||40||55||95||0.588|
On a per game basis, Huberdeau and Couturier are very close - remarkable considering Saint John's dominance and firepower.
Couturier's play-making ability has been discussed since World Juniors' summer camp. He's tall and rangy and has great ability down low as well as in transition. His passing skills are second-to-none in this draft class.
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||58||36||60||96||1.034|
|Gabriel Lévesque||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||68||37||70||107||1.029|
|Philip-Michaël Devos||Gatineau Olympiques||68||47||67||114||0.985|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||61||39||57||96||0.934|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Saint John Sea Dogs||67||43||62||105||0.925|
|Alex Saulnier||Moncton Wildcats||65||25||60||85||0.923|
|Andrej Nestrasil||PEI Rocket||58||19||51||70||0.879|
|Joël Champagne||Québec Remparts||68||24||58||82||0.853|
|Zack Phillips||Saint John Sea Dogs||67||38||57||95||0.851|
|Dave Labrecque||Shawinigan Cataractes||58||27||48||75||0.828|
He was the top man in the Q in assists per game and a big reason behind Ondrej Palat's season.
To wrap it all up, the points per game looks just as good, if not better than all of the rest of the numbers.
|Philip-Michaël Devos||Gatineau Olympiques||68||47||67||114||1.68|
|Sean Couturier||Drummondville Voltigeurs||58||36||60||96||1.66|
|Gabriel Lévesque||Acadie-Bathurst Titan||68||37||70||107||1.57|
|Ondrej Palat||Drummondville Voltigeurs||61||39||57||96||1.57|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Saint John Sea Dogs||67||43||62||105||1.57|
|Tye McGinn||Gatineau Olympiques||42||31||33||64||1.52|
|Zack Phillips||Saint John Sea Dogs||67||38||57||95||1.42|
|Jonathan Marchessault||Québec Remparts||68||40||55||95||1.4|
|Marek Hrivik||Moncton Wildcats||59||38||41||79||1.34|
|Jonathan Hazen||Val-d'Or Foreurs||62||41||42||83||1.34|
Couturier was a point-scoring machine, missing the top spot in points per game by two points - thus losing the title to overager Philip-Michaël Devos.
Percentage of offense:
SumOil, the man behind our CHL bible, will have an upcoming article detailing the percentage of offensive contribution from all of the draft-eligible players he's been tracking in the CHL this season. Should Couturier show favorably in comparison to his competition, Couturier should be a lock for the first forward drafted.
Sean Couturier is a huge center, an outstanding playmaker, an excellent goal scorer, an incredible faceoff man and a superior two-way player. That the conversation isn't centered around Sean vs. Adam (doesn't have the same ring to it, now does it?) is strange. That the scuttlebutt is Couturier falling out of the top five is laughable.