Fri Sep 09 04:00pm EDT
From a major junior hockey perspective, it might not be for nothing that reigning QMJHL MVP Sean Couturier ended up joining the Philadelphia Flyers organization at the same time as Brayden Schenn. Couturier might be to the Q this season what Schenn was to the WHL last season — the most sought-after player on the trade market.
The elements between Couturier in 2011 and Schenn a year ago, when he stayed up in the NHL and AHL with the Los Angeles Kings for more than two months, are similar. It's a case of a player in his age-19 season who might not be NHL-ready but would dominate in junior, where his team is a downswing in its competitive cycle. Oh, and for some added spice, this comes in a season when the MasterCard Memorial Cup is being hosted by the QMJHL. For what it is worth, host Shawinigan has vowed to pull out all the stops to be competitive, although GM Martin Mondou has more pressing needs at defence as opposed to forward, like that would deter going after a top player. So it reckons that Couturier's Drummondville Voltigeurs might want to cash in their biggest asset to start reassembling, as Willy Palov wrote Friday.
One way or another, I can't see star centre Sean Couturier spending the whole season in Drummondville. He will either make the Philadelphia Flyers or be returned to the QMJHL, where he will likely be dealt to a contender at mid-season. Regardless of how it plays out, the Voltigeurs don't seem deep enough to contend without him. (Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
A quick check of the roster points out the fairly obvious: outside of Couturier and Ondrej Palat, a Tampa Bay Lightning seventh-round choice, the Volts do not return a single forward who even mustered 50 points last season. If you read through the GM-speak, it does sound like Drummondville will be a team for which holding on to a superstar will be a needless luxury.
Drummondville was a model of consistency in the past three seasons, averaging 104.6 points and always finishing in the top four in the league during that span.
The look of our team depends on whether Sean Couturier and Ondrej Palat are here," said Voltigeurs general manager Dominic Ricard. "Without them, we don't really have high impact players.
"We have 14 players who weren't with us last season so there's a lot of new faces here. Ten of them are rookies. We think we have a group of players that has good work ethic and character. If Couturier and Palat don't come back, we still think we'll be a competitive team. We're looking to finish in the top half of the league." (Moncton Times & Transcript)
The speculation should be in a holding pattern until it is sure Couturier is returning from the Flyers. It is not automatic that a high NHL pick who's playing out his junior-hockey string will be traded. Current Edmonton Oiler Jordan Eberle played out his junior days with the WHL's Regina Pats two seasons is probably the most notable, while the OHL's Plymouth Whalers likely also would have held on to Tyler Seguin last season had he returned from the Boston Bruins.
You might joke this post could have been written last season, since talk then was that Couturier's father, Acadie-Bathurst Titan GM Sylvain Couturier, might trade for his son. This time there might be more to it.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.