Before the start of the 2010-2011 NHL season, Sean Couturier was considered to be the consensus #1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Unfortunately, Couturier contracted a particularly serious case of mononucleosis that set his development back and allowed other lesser-known prospects like Ryan Nuget-Hopkins to leapfrog him on many draft boards.
Despite the bad case of mono, the 18-year-old Couturier had a fine season for the Drummondville Voltigeurs, scoring 96 points (36G-60A) in only 58 regular season games to finish fourth in scoring in the QMJHL. During his previous season (2009-2010), Couturier led the QMJHL in scoring as a 17-year-old. As a minor historical note, the last 17-year-old to lead the QMHL in scoring was a kid named Sidney Crosby.
Couturier has been likened by many scouts to a young Joe Thornton or a more offensively gifted Jordan Staal. He possesses a large frame (6'4"), excellent on-ice vision and hands, a well-developed two-way game, and a very good (if under-used) shot. He will have to continue to work to fill out his frame and improve his skating, but all indications are that Couturier will develop into a legitimate top line center at the NHL level.
The problem the Flyers face is what to do with their most recent draft pick. At his age, Couturier is not eligible to play in the AHL, leaving him with only two options: either playing in the NHL or returning to the QMJHL. At this point, there is little Couturier can gain from playing against inferior competition in the Q. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has already stated that he believes Couturier is NHL ready and expects him to compete for a roster spot in training camp.
Should Couturier make the Flyers opening day roster, its reasonable to expect him to contribute between 25 and 50 points. At this point, an estimate of 40 points (18G-22A) seems to be fair.
To give some context, Jordan Staal, a player to whom Couturier has drawn frequent comparisons, scored 42 points (29G-13A) in his rookie season. Thornton scored 41 points (16G-25A) in his first full NHL season. Logan Couture, another player to whom Couturier has drawn some comparisons, scored 56 points (32G-24A) in his rookie season. A lot will depend on Couturier's ability to fill out his frame before training camp and his ability to acclimate himself to the Flyers system. If he is able to do that, he could be a solid third-line contributor for the Flyers in 2011-2012.