Sean Couturier, a long shot to make the Flyers in training camp, has already scored five goals and three assists, while playing primarily a penalty killing, checking role. His plus-9 ratio is 14th in the entire NHL.
“He continues to play solid hockey for us at both ends of the ice,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
“Defensively, penalty kill, he does the right things. Offensively, he got some opportunities and cashed them in.”
Couturier, 18, who was the Flyers’ first-round draft choice — the team used the pick acquired in the Jeff Carter deal on him — recently spoke with Metro about his transition to the NHL.
Do you still pinch yourself about being in the NHL?
Not really anymore. I’m just trying to think team first and do whatever I can do to help the team win. Since day one of training camp, I tried to take it one day at a time, one game at a time. It’s been going pretty well, so I won’t change my philosophy.
Did you expect to play such a key penalty killing and defensive role? And where did you learn that style?
I knew, obviously, coming in as a rookie, I’d have to make my way up. Whatever I can do to help the team, I’ll do my best and maybe eventually in the future move up. My first year in juniors I had Guy Boucher [current Tampa Bay coach] as a coach. He’s strong on defense first. That year, I was kind of in similar spots. Sixteen and trying to learn the game and do the little things to help the team.
Can you be the kind of scorer you were in juniors?
Maybe one day. Right now I’m just trying to learn the most I can, develop as fast as I can. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll have a bigger role on the team. It started out pretty well and coach has confidence in me. I’m a bit surprised by that. At the same time, I try to work hard every day and get better.
Do you feel you are here to stay? And what is it like for an 18-year-old kid in a new city to be on his own?
You never know … with the salary cap, things can change. I’m just focusing on right now. I moved in with Danny Briere a couple of weeks ago. Just being around him, learning from him — what he does on and off the ice — is good for me.
What was it like watching a shootout loss to the Devils [Nov. 3] and were you hoping you would get a chance?
You try not to think too much when you’re in shootout mode, so I was just enjoying the show. In juniors I’d be the go-to guy. Here, it’s different, I’m still adapting myself and learning.