Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Time to Buy on Couturier?

Early in the 2010-2011 season Sean Couturier seemed to have the inside-track on becoming the consensus #1 pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and after being the only draft-eligible player selected to be a member of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship team I thought seeing Couturier go #1 overall would be all but assured. However, for whatever the reason may be, people began to sour on Couturier after posting only 3 points in 7 games – decent numbers given his role as a second/third liner.

After his free-fall in the rankings, Couturier ended up being selected 8th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. While at first glance one would assume that the #8 pick doesn’t have the same kind of upside or talent as the prospects taken ahead of him, it seems as though Couturier may have been prematurely buried. As such, let’s compare Couturier’s numbers to those of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the 2011 #1 overall pick said to have the most offensive upside of any forward in this draft.

After missing the cut for Team Canada, Nugent-Hopkins improved upon his stellar start and finished up the season with a great stat-line, posting 106 points in 69 games. The two main reasons scouts seemed to be all over RNH: he improved his point totals by 39 while scoring 24 more points than Red Deer’s second-leading scorer.

Player Team League GP G A P P/GP
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Red Deer Rebels
WHL
69
31
75
106
1.536
Sean Couturier Drummondville Volitgeurs
QMJHL
58
36
60
96
1.655

So, even though these numbers are quite close, the bottom line is that, in an even number of games, Couturier actually would have outscored RNH. Perhaps a better way to compare the two prospects would be to do so while breaking down their numbers by situation.

Player Situation G A P P/GP % of Total Points
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
ES
20
27
47
0.681
44.34%
PP
11
48
59
0.855
55.66%
PK
0
0
0
0.000
0.00%
Sean Couturier
ES
27
32
59
1.017
61.49%
PP
9
24
33
0.569
34.38%
PK
0
4
4
0.069
4.17%

I think this comparison to be very telling: if RNH is such a dominant player, why can't he dominate at even strength, against the other teams' best players, like Couturier?

Hopefully Nugent-Hopkins turns out to be a great player, but Couturier was the QMHJL's MVP last season and probably would have been the consensus #1 pick had it not been for his "horrible" play at the WJC tournament.

Couturier's fall down the draft gives you an opportunity to get him later in prospects drafts than you should: don’t be like Ottawa and Winnipeg and pass on this guy!

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