Couturier will 'fit right in' with Flyers
Big Drummondville Voltigeurs centre selected eighth overall by Philadelphia touted as future NHL star
By Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal
August 6, 2011
Centre Sean Couturier handles the puck during Day 3 of Team Canada's summer development camp at Rexall Place on Friday.
Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, The Journal, Edmonton Journal
Last year at this time, Drummondville Voltigeurs centre Sean Couturier was the odds-on favourite to go No. 1 at the NHL entry draft.
Instead, he was selected eighth overall by the Philadelphia Flyers at the June draft in St. Paul, Minn. Stuff happens. It was, however, a good move by the Flyers, who traded captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings and Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets just prior to the draft.
"He's got the Bobby Clarke grin," joked Tampa Bay Lightning scout Al Murray, who couldn't fathom the sixfoot-three centre lasting that long before getting picked by the Flyers. "He was missing his front Chiclets, too. He'll fit right in.
"He led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in scoring at 17 and would have led it again last again, but he really only had one other (offensive talent in Ondrej) Palat. People worried about Sean's offensive play? I don't get it. He played on the world junior team last year. "
Murray said Couturier will "play wherever you tell him to go. He's incredibly responsible, defensively, with no ego.
"I think he can be an NHL star." Couturier, who played at Notre Dame College with winger Jaden Schwartz and defenceman Brandon Gormley - two other players who'll make Canada's world junior team - wasn't beating himself up over going eighth overall.
"Wherever I got drafted, I was pretty happy with it. First or last, you still have to prove yourself at camp. I'm not disappointed," said Couturier, who said Clarke was at the Flyers draft table when they picked him.
"Couturier didn't have an opportunity to work out last summer because he had mono," said Hockey Canada chief scout Kevin Prendergast. "The summer was a writeoff for him, but he had a pretty good junior year. He plays two ways, in all situations."
Traffic snarl on Saturday?
If you're thinking of using the LRT to get to the Red-White scrimmage at Rexall Place on Saturday night, don't bother.
The platform at the Coliseum station is closed for refinishing from 7 p.m. Friday until the end of service on Sunday, which means you'll have to drive to the summer development camp game or take a bus. You could take a bus from either the Belvedere or Stadium station to get to the Coliseum Transit Centre.
One tough customer
Prince George Cougars winger Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay's firstround pick in 2010, did not practise on Friday after bruising his leg in a scrimmage Thursday night.
Sherwood Park's Duncan Siemens, one of the WHL's toughest customers playing for the Saskatoon Blades, got his stick in the mix before Connolly smacked into the boards.
"Yeah, yeah, it was a penalty," said Siemens, who was selected 11th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2011 draft.
"He plays that way and has to, to be effective," said Canada's world junior head coach Don Hay.
Connolly, who was a member of Canada's world junior squad last year, hopes to play in the first of the two Red-White games. The second is Sunday night in Fort McMurray.
"I'd be surprised if he's not playing Saturday. He looked OK at breakfast this morning. Of course, they all look good then. God, you should see them eat," said Prendergast.
"We've been lucky with injuries. Usually you get a lot of groin pulls (in a summer camp) because they're trying so hard."
Team Canada hopefuls went to Canadain Forces Base Namao for some team bonding exercises on Friday afternoon. They did a little parachute jumping from a platform, rappelling down walls.
"Good way to get closer to the guys," said Devante Smith-Pelly, the big winger from the OHL's Mississauga St. Michael's and the Anaheim Ducks' second-round pick (42nd overall) in 2010.
How is he with heights? "Not bad. I say that now. Who knows when I get up that high?" said Smith-Pelly. who has been playing alongside Oilers draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Schwartz at development camp.
"The Oilers rookies raved about the exercises a couple of years ago," said Prendergast. "It's good for the kids to get away from the ice.
"I might do the parachute jump, too. Heck, maybe they won't give me one," joked Prendergast.
"I haven't finished doing my will yet."
Nugent-Hopkins said he's feeling stronger on the puck with the extra 10 pounds he has gained over the summer, but he's always going to get questions about his size - he is six-foot and 174 pounds.
"I think the last skinny centre Edmonton had was pretty good," said Prendergast. "It's not going to affect this kid."
Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike ? ? Babcock and his new assistants Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters are in Edmonton even though the Red Wings don't have a single prospect at camp. They can look at two 17-year-old defencemen: Ryan Murray and Cody Ceci, who are both eligible for the 2012 entry draft.
The best bet to wear the 'C' for ? ? Canada at t he worlds is Schwartz, t h e C o l o r a d o College winger. "He's a tremendous young man. He's handled his situation (his sister Mandi died of cancer in April) very well. He understands life," said Prendergast.
Montreal Canadiens assistant coach ? ? Perry Pearn, who will be looking after the Habs defence and both special-teams units this year, attended Friday's practice. He was there to watch three Canadiens draft picks -forwards Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival and defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. Pearn's three-onthree pro camp starts Aug. 22, with several Oilers attending including Taylor Hall.
Oil Kings defenceman Griffin ? ? Reinhart, who could be a top-5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, made Canada's under-18 team for the Ivan Hlinka tournament, which begins on Monday in the Czech Republic. But Prendergast said Griffin, the son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart, struggled at their camp. He hurt his ankle, which slowed him, but it was mainly his preparation. He didn't get enough skating in prior to the camp, according to Prendergast.
The world junior evaluation camp ? ? will be held in Calgary, with 35 to 40 kids trying to make the final cut of 22. The team, which will likely decamp to Banff, will play two or three exhibition games before opening against Finland at Rexall Place on Boxing Day.
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