As we all know, Sean Couturier’s offensive play isn’t developing into what everyone has hoped. On the defensive side of the puck he is one of the best forwards on the team, and will continue to shape into an elite defensive player. Couturier isn’t to blame for this season’s struggles at all. He has received third line minutes and has been used as a shutdown forward the entire season.
As of now he isn’t on pace to break last season’s totals if there were an 82 game season. If this continues for Couturier, he may not shape into anything but an elite defensive player. At that point the best move for the Flyers would be to deal him.
Before you go crazy reading this, think about it. Why use a player who has first or second line talent as a third liner? The void left in the third line can easily be filled by rookie Scott Laughton, who like Couturier, has shutdown capabilities that will excel at the NHL level. It still leaves a solid lineup for the Flyers to move on with.
The best move would be for a defenseman. Kevin Shattenkirk, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien, and many others. All are young defenseman that Coutuier alone, or perhaps with mid-level picks, can acquire.
The one name we’d all love to here is Alex Pietrangelo of the Saint Louis Blues. There is always a possibility, but the Flyers would need a lot more than Couturier to pull off that deal. Regardless of who they pursue, all would also have an immediate impact on the team and strengthen their defensive corps.
If Couturier is kept I hope he is used more offensively, but right now there is no room for that role. The Flyers will need to resign Giroux, Read, Schenn, and Couturier in the coming seasons and will not have cap space for all four. Couturier seems to be the odd man out in this situation. It would be better to have a young defenseman that can help the team than waste the talent of Couturier as your turn him into a defensive-only player.
Also, while you’re reading potential Flyers trades, check out my piece on why the Flyers should deal forward Danny Briere (which could possibly make Couturier trade unnecessary).