Thread: Player Discussion: Coots: Sean Couturier
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10-24-2013, 03:17 PM
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fauxflex
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The following was basically a response made (in June 2013) to that BSH article that prompted a lot of this kind of Couturier discussion last season..Meltzer was using it in a blog and I made some counterpoints in my response...there are a bunch of stats cited that may help you understand where I'm coming from on this...

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"The article was done early on in a shortened season, and thus, is a very small sample size.

They used Corsi Rel QoC as one of the primary backing statistics to support their premise of Couturier establishing himself as an "elite" defensive player because it indicates he goes up against top competition.

The article cited Couturier's ranking in this category as 18th in the NHL, however, the season ending rank for Couturier in this category was 62nd, which is a big difference...indicating that 61 forwards in the NHL faced tougher competiion (if you go by CorsiRelQoC).

Also, the fact that he may have faced solid competion does not, in itself, indicate he's high performing as a defensive forward...in other words, it may indicate the type of competition a player may face, but it doesn't indicate how they fared against them. I point
to Couturier's GA/ON60 (5v5) number, or goals scored against the team while he's on the ice (for 60 mins), which was 3.09, a very poor number that ranks him 383rd amongst all NHL forwards. Not exactly elite, even when you consider he faced the 61st toughest competition in the league.


Some other advanced (5v5) stats to chew on:

His Corsi On, meaning the differential of how many shots were taken by the opposition versus how many his own team took, while he was on the ice, was ranked 285th in the league (forwards only).

His Corsi Relative, indicates his Corsi while on the ice to his team's overall Corsi when he's off the ice. In this category Couturier ranked as the154th forward in the NHL.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Couturier's plus-minus rating at even strength took a steep downturn this year. However, when you look at actual meat-and-potatoes of the player's shifts on the ice, there were only a handful of opposition goals scored directly as a result of a turnover or blown coverage by Couturier. The mistakes usually happened elsewhere.

Well, there were still that "handful" of goals (in a shortened season) where Couturier was the primary culprit, and numerous other mistakes that, luckily, didn't end up in the back of the net. Not exactly the hallmark of young forward developing an elite defensive game.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Plus-minus numbers aside, Couturier's defensive development actually continued at a solid clip from his strong defensive rookie season. In plain English terms, here's why:

* He was the Flyers center most likely to be on the ice against other teams' top scoring lines, game in and game out.

Again, Couturier may have drawn the tougher assignments as the coach put him out there against top lines at times, but that tells us nothing about how he actually did against them. I know Coots seems to have a special thing with Malkin and really gets up to play him, but maybe Lavy playing the 20 yr old against the NHL's top players on a regular basis wasn't the greatest idea? Indeed, Couturier's GA/ON60 (5v5) number of 3.09 seems to indicate he fared quite poorly in defending against his (62nd toughest) competition.

From what I can tell, this indicates the premise of the BSH article, that Couturier is establishing himself as an elite defensive forward and the premise of Couturier being on track for "sustained defensive dominance", is off the mark. Yes, he's playing against some decent competition, but he's not doing particularly well in defending against them. Indeed, there are a substantial number of forwards in the league who had as high or higher CorsiRelQoC (indicating they faced as tough or tougher competition), but who also have significantly lower GA/ON60 (inidcating that less goals were allowed while the player was on the ice). There are probably 40+ forwards in the league who faced better competition (higher CorsiRelQoC) and did better against them (GA/ON60). Among the best in this differential are players like Pavel Datsyuk (ranks #1), David Backes, Boyd Gordon, Mike Fisher, Charlie Coyle, Josh Bailey, Alex Burrows, Patrick Sharp, Steve Ott, Anze Kopitar, Gabriel Landeskog, H Sedin, Logan Coture, Radim Vrbata. Pretty good company. Now looking at players further down the list, with a quotient of CorsiRelQoC and GA/ON60 similar to Couturier, and we see his defensive peers are players like Curtis Glencross, Jamie McGinn, Lee Stempniak, Jason Pominville, Marcel Goc, P.A. Parenteau, JVR, Anisimov, Tanguay, Brodziak, Fleischmann. Not exactly your Selke nominees/dominant defensive types.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Despite the disadvantageous zone starts, difficulty of opposition, Couturier's poor faceoff numbers and the Flyers' issues with getting the puck cleanly out of the defensive zone, the Flyers actually had more shot attempts and shots on goal than their opponents in Couturier's shifts.

That's interesting, and could point to some good things, but then again, there were more goals scored against the Flyers (per 60 min) when Couturier was on the ice, versus when he was off the ice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Although Couturier only started 32.1 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone (13th among Flyers forwards who played in 20 or more games), he finished in the offensive zone 44.7 percent of the time.

That's interesting but not too exciting...
Max Talbot had a 33% higher CorsiRelQoC and had a similar zone start/finish ratio... 35.2% offensive zone starts, finished in the offensive zone 46.3.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Giveaways and takeaways are a subjective stat, but it should be noted that Couturier's puck-protection and puck-pursuit numbers were quite good. He was charged with just 19 giveaways and credited with 26 takeaways. Considering that he was often in the defensive zone under heavy pressure and facing lengthy shifts, this ratio suggests both his poise and his skill at getting the puck away from the player he's checking.

Obviously you're going to have the opportunity to take away the puck from an opponent in the defensive zone a lot more than you would in the offensive zone, so given his high % of def zone starts, it's not surprising. Still, his takeaways were 2.14 (per 60), which ranks him about 60-70th forward in the NHL...ok, but not overly impressive.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltzer
Much of the time with Couturier on the ice, the Flyers were still able to get out of their defensive zone and push the puck to the other end of the ice. Yes, he was a minus-eight on the season but that was due to not having enough pluses rather than an actual downturn in his defensive play. Overall, Couturier is already the best defensive forward on the Flyers, and will only continue to improve in the years to come.

While basic plus/minus isn't always a good indicator, I don't know if you can simply discount the -8 due to not having the pluses...his GA/ON60 (goals against per 60 mins of icetime played) last season was MUCH better than this season, and, unlike plus minus, that doesn't depend on goals scored or pluses to calculate.

The bottom line as I see it, is the Couturier is a good player that is still very young, and has some nice upside potential. Having said that, I believe that many overrate his current level of play as well as his potential, thus overvaluing the player in talks of potential trades and the like. In particular, I think many fans tend to inflate his defensive acumen, to the point where "Selke" is associated with him in many discussions...(I wonder how many neutral observers have used that term in relation to him). I am not trying to say that Couturier will be a bust, or that he won't be a good, possibly very good two-way player someday, but I think it's prudent, as fans and within the organziation, to reel in the expectations somewhat and not project our hopes and hypes onto the young player, as this bias tends to distort reality and could be counter productive. I think a realistic expectation for Couturier's ceiling is 50+ point forward with a decent (not dominant) defensive game. Anything more, I believe, is largely based on hopeful speculation of Flyer fans. I'm as big a fan as anyone, but I'm trying to manage my expectations and keep things in perspective and not take his and other young players upside for granted. In my estimation, Coots has a looong way to go to fulfill his upside promise based on his current play, and there's certainly no guarantee he ever will.
I hope he does, as a Flyer...but there's that chance he doesn't...it's not like his play thus far has given definitive indications. That's why I'd be willing to trade Couturier in a deal for say, a Keith Yandle. While the former is a young player valued on mostly his youth, draft pedigree and potential, the latter is a player entering his prime who is valued on his proven ability to perform in the NHL...also considered is the premium required to acquire an upper echelon D man in trade is high. I would consider Schenn in the same category and would do a straight up deal for Yandle with him too....personally, I don't think the Yotes do it...they'd probably ask for a 1st rd'er and/or another good young prospect or roster player on top of Coots or Schenn...I'd be hesitant to go much beyond maybe a 2nd rd pick or B level prospect or 3rd/4th liner as a sweetener...perhaps if they'd take Meszaros or Coby that could work too...but I'm not giving both Coots sand Schenn or a package consisting of one of them plus other A level assets...if there's no deal to be made, on those terms, then so be it."


Last edited by fauxflex: 10-24-2013 at 03:22 PM.
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