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Draft Week: Sean Couturier

With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft coming up this Friday, SenShot will take a look at the five forward prospects that will be on Ottawa’s radar come draft night. Today, we examine Sean Couturier.

Can't miss or too risky?

Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Courturier is one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s draft. Once touted as the ‘next big thing‘, Couturier has fallen a bit in the draft rankings. The 6’4″, 195 lbs two-way center has scouts and fans drooling over his potential, especially with his size most likely to increase. In 58 games this season, Couturier recorded 36 goals and 96 points and and added 11 points in ten playoff games.

Couturier was also the only draft eligible 17 year old to make the Canadian U-20 World Junior team where he scored three points in seven games and won a silver medal. With the tournament known as a 18-19 year old tournament, Couturier was able to hold his own.

Projected to be a first or second line center in the NHL, Couturier is the prospect teams dream about. He has the size and the skill to be an impact player in the league, and could be a franchise player down the line in the mold of the Staal brothers, Eric and Jordan. Here’s what the experts say:

As per TSN‘s Bob McKenzie,

Strengths -Big, imposing two-way center who can play in any situation, strong character on and off the ice, solid work habits, strong hockey sense and playmaking abilities. Ability to protect the puck from opponents is second to none.

Weaknesses – Didn’t really show improvement this season, especially in his skating. Needs to work on his quickness. Not naturally mean, could play with more of an edge.

NHL Upside - First or second-line center with solid two-way abilities. A Jason Allison type with better defensive awareness.

As per The Hockey News Draft Preview,

As evidenced by his strong play in the WJC, Couturier has good offensive instincts and hockey sense. His ability to protect the puck allows him to make creative plays. There are some concerns about his skating.

McKenzie has Couturier ranked fifth overall, while The Hockey News and the International Scouting Services has him at fourth overall.

One explanation for Couturier’s drop in his ranking is partially due to the media coverage he received throughout the year. With all the eyes and pressure on him, others we able to climb the rankings while not receiving much media attention and scrutiny. Couturier’s dip should not raise any alarm bells, as it displays how close the prospects are in skill.

Couturier also has NHL blood lines as his father, Sylvain played in the NHL and had a respectable pro career. Here’s a video on Couturier courtesy of the NHL.com.

If Couturier was selected by the Sens, what should Sens Army expect?

With Jason Spezza entrenched as the number one center in Ottawa for the foreseeable future, Couturier would be groomed as the perfect second line center to compliment him. He would help take some of the offensive load off Spezza, and would be able to provide a consistent offensive threat. With Ottawa lacking any impact centerman in the system, Couturier would be counted on to play a huge top six role. And with his size (6’4″, 195 lbs), Ottawa would be strong down the middle and very hard to contain.

If he were to be drafted by the Sens, Ottawa would hope Couturier could gain a mean streak to go along with his skills in the mold of Ryan Getzlaf. Couturier could be ready to step into the league next year, but with Ottawa in its rebuild, patience may be best as the kid could grow more into his body and get stronger and faster.

Out of all the highly ranked prospects, Couturier could be the most likely one to be available when Ottawa steps up to the mic at the sixth position. Could he be the next Ottawa Senator?

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft goes Friday and Saturady in Minnesota. Stay tuned to SenShot as we will provide complete coverage of the draft and of all the prospects selected.

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Tags: 2011 NHL Entry Draft Jason Spezza Ottawa Senatore Ryan Getzlaf Sean Couturier

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