The Uncertain Future of Sean Couturier

Just about a year ago, Sean Couturier was one season removed from being the reigning Selke winner and was looking like a core member of the Flyers of the future and the 1C for several years to come. That seemed to be more like a sure lock when Chuck Fletcher gave Coots an extension before his contract season that would come in the form of an 8-year, $7.75 million aav contract. At the time, it seemed like a huge win for Chuck Fletcher, one of his moves that summer that was deemed a success, the other notable one being the Ryan Ellis deal. Just 13 months removed from that, the move looks worse.

There were already concerns about the contract. He will be 38 when his deal expires, but the hope was for about six more years of really good to elite two-way production and then just having to deal with two years of play that didn’t live up to the price tag. But with elite players, you need to bite the bullet sometimes. Sean Couturier has never been a huge offensive threat. Yes, he’s had a couple 76 point seasons, but both were with Claude Giroux on his wing, plus he’s not necessarily paid for his offensive production.

Then things got worse. Sean Couturier would end up missing almost all the 2021-22 season, playing in only 29 games with an injury to his wrist resulting from a skate cutting him, but then was placed on the injured reserve for an upper-body injury. Then it was announced that Couturier would be done for the season after undergoing back surgery. This wasn’t Coots’ first bout with injuries. In 2015-16, Couturier had 3 different injuries: a concussion, a lower-body injury, and a shoulder injury. The next season he would sprain his left MCL, which he would then tear in the 2018 playoffs and then re-injured it again shortly before the next season. During the 56-game 2020-21 season, Couturier would only play in 45 games, missing 11 for his ribs were torn from the cartilage then an MRI revealed an injury to his hip.

On September 19, 2022, Anthony SanFilippo tweeted out that Sean Couturier would miss significant time, if not the whole season, due to a herniated disc in his back. This spelled even more danger for the Flyers as, unsurprisingly, Ryan Ellis was reported to be done for the season most likely. Then, there were concerns about Sean Couturier’s career and whether this was potentially career-ending and the answer wasn’t a complete denial of this being a career-threatening injury. Then we got the news that he is week-to-week and could be back in a few weeks and won’t require surgery.

Transcript of the presser with Chuck Fletcher at the beginning of preseason. Questions by Charlie O’Connor

Obviously, these are very conflicting reports. It seems to be anywhere from an injury keeping him out a few weeks to being forced to retire with this being the nail in the coffin. This isn’t supposed to be a piece to sway you to believe one thing or another, but when looking at Anthony SanFilippo’s track record is very good. We saw something like this happen last year when Anthony tweeted out about Sam Morin’s injury being very serious, then it came out that it would be nothing and he’d be back, backed by how the Flyers classified Morin’s injury. Now, Sam Morin retired due to his injuries derailing his career. On top of this, the track record of injury timelines provided by the Flyers is spotty at best. I don’t think that I need to go over the injuries from last year and the complete mishandling of player injuries.

The best-case scenario is that Sean Couturier really doesn’t need surgery and can come back in his 2018-2020 form for a few years during his current contract. Worst-case scenario? Coots tries to come back, gets re-injured and he retires. Of course, retirement would mean we can just put his contract on LTIR, but that’s not how you want to see a player end their career. All we can do now is just wait and see how Coots recovers and how he plays after the injury.


By Noah Caplan (@Phlyers24)
Photo credit: NBCSportsPhiladelphia

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