ST. PAUL -- One day after trading two All-Star centers in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the Philadelphia Flyers have a pair of youngsters they hope can follow in their highly skilled skates.
Philadelphia acquired Brayden Schenn as part of Thursday's blockbuster deal that sent Richards to Los Angeles, and with the No. 8 pick in Friday's first round of the 2011 Entry Draft -- a pick obtained in the deal that sent Carter to Columbus -- the Flyers selected Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier.
After leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in scoring with 96 points as a 17-year-old in 2009-10, the 6-foot-4, 197-pound center scored another 96 points, this time in just 58 games -- 10 fewer than the previous season. Couturier also had 3 points in seven games while helping Canada win the silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship. He was the only draft-eligible player on the team.
However, Couturier's goal total dipped from 41 to 36, and his stock slipped in the eyes of some scouts. He entered the season as the early favorite to be taken with the first pick of the draft, but ended the season No. 6 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
"All our guys liked him," Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said. "Two years ago he was one of the better underage players in Canada. This past year Sean, after the Canadian World Junior camp, was diagnosed with mono, which zapped him of some of his strength. He struggled early in the year, but bounced back on not one of the better teams in the Quebec League, still had a good year offensively. He's a well-rounded player at a young age. He's very competent in his own zone and he's a guy that has some offensive pop, as well."
Holmgren wasn't the only one who liked what he saw from Couturier this season.
"He possesses a very good work ethic and he's out there for every important faceoff," said Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau. "He's very responsible in the defensive aspect of the game -- a rare quality for such a young player in junior hockey."
The Flyers have three centers under contract for the 2011-12 season -- Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts. Briere and Giroux have experience playing on the wing, and Betts will center the fourth line, so there could be an opening or two entering training camp.
"At training camp we'll have spots guys are fighting for," Holmgren said. "That's one of those things the players usually answer. We're excited about him coming to our development camp after the Fourth of July. That'll be our first taste of working with him, and coming to training camp. It'll be his fourth year of junior (if he doesn't make the team). Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know. He's a big kid, he's pretty filled out already, so I would say it's an important summer for him."
Couturier said his goal is to be in Philadelphia for the 2011-12 season.
"For sure my main goal is going to be to try to make a spot on the roster," he said. "We'll go from now and work hard, keep working hard during the summer and improve myself and be ready for camp. Once I get there, I just want to show what I've got.
"I think it's going to be up to me to work hard this summer and show what I've got. I can't control the decision after that. But my main goal for sure is going to be part of the team."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK