This week's Frozen Pool Forensics looks at Logan Couture …
Logan Couture has had an interesting season. For the first time in his NHL career, he had an extended summer to train after his San Jose Sharks missed the playoffs in 2014-15 – the first miss since 2002-03.
Couture had just set career highs in points with 67 and shots on goal with 258. Expectations were high for the former ninth overall pick from 2007…. That is until a rut in the ice stole two and half months from the Guelph, Ontario native after he fell awkwardly and fractured his right fibula in practice back in October.
For years, fantasy owners had patiently waited for Couture to supplement the legendary Joe Thornton and take over the role of top-line centre for the Northern California squad. With every playoff disappointment, it was expected that a cultural shift would occur and thrust Couture into the spotlight. While that day has yet to come, owners shouldn’t be giving up on Couture just yet.
Couture’s 15 goals and 36 points in 52 regular season games represents his lowest point-per-game output (0.69) and fewest goals scored since his 25-game rookie season. Are we ready to attribute these subpar results purely to the time missed and difficulty getting back up to speed, or is Couture slipping out of the realm of serious producer?
Well, if we didn’t have a clear answer before, we do now. San Jose has been scoring goals with the best of them this postseason and Couture has been a driving player in that regard. He currently sits third in playoff scoring with 14 points in 11 games, and his four multi-point games sit good for second best. Yet, somehow these numbers are only good for runner-up on his team as Brent Burns holds a share of the league lead in points with 15 on the strength of six multi-point efforts.
Since March 29, Couture has recorded 11 goals and 21 points in his last 18 combined regular season and playoff games – a 1.17 point-per-game rate. Its safe to say all this sweet spring air has really sprung Couture back to life.
During this postseason hot streak, Couture has shot the lights out. He has converted 11 of 28 total shots, good for a 21.4 percent rate – nearly 11 percent higher than his career average. Helping these numbers out are the opportunities coming with the man advantage.
Power Play Line Combinations – 2016 Playoffs
Couture finds himself slotting on the top unit of the second-ranked postseason power play (28.2 percent), and he’s a major part of it. Using Dobber Report Generator, we can see that the 2012 NHL all-star leads the league with four tallies at five-on-four, and his seven power-play points are good for a share of second with Phil Kessel and Burns.
PPP Leaders – 2016 Playoffs
After Thornton’s amazing 81-point season at age 36, and the great success San Jose has shown in the playoffs thus far, its unlikely that a culture shift will occur heading into next season, but that shouldn’t deter fantasy owners from selecting Couture early in drafts or looking to trade for him in dynasty leagues.
Even after a down year, over the past five seasons, Couture has produced at an average clip of 0.78 points per game – or 64 points over a full campaign. Consistency like that is hard to come by, and so long as his fantastic playoff run doesn’t hype him too much, he could be a steal come draft day for one year leagues.
While rarely receiving the spotlight, the former Ottawa 67’s standout has been integral to the success of San Jose this season. When Couture was out of the lineup with the broken leg, and then with an arterial bleed in his right thigh that cost him games from Dec. 12-28, the Sharks were 13-14-1. With him, the Sharks were 33-14-5. Impressive to say the least.
Draft for at least 60 points and hope for 70, because this San Jose team refuses to let their window close, and Logan Couture is doing a fine job propping it up.
** Update: Of course Couture had a monster game seven and messed up all these stats… He finishes the second round as the playoff scoring leader with 17 points in 12 games. His 11 points against Nashville is a new Sharks record, beating Igor Larionov’s previous mark of 10 set in 1994.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavol3 where I mostly retweet other people’s witty comments and occasionally add my own.
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