Originally posted on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 11/3/11

When the Flyers coaching staff decided to keep 18-year-old Sean Couturier on the NHL roster right out of his first professional training camp, it came as a surprise to many.

Although he was the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft, most scouts around the league thought that Couturier needed another year or two at the junior level before he was NHL-ready. However, Couturier has shined through twelve games this season, and is making the Flyers look smarter with every game he plays.

It isn’t always pretty, and he definitely has a long way to go before he reaches his full potential, but Sean Couturier has been one of the most impressive all-around players on the Flyers this season.

In fact, Couturier is tied for the team lead in plus/minus with Scott Hartnell at plus 6.

His defensive abilities have been on display since the first game, with Peter Laviolette showing full confidence in the rookie by playing him in all phases of the game. That’s right; a kid three years younger than me is a force on the power play, the penalty kill, and even strength.

The penalty kill has been the most successful part of Couturier’s game, as he uses his long reach and defensive awareness to make plays in his own zone and find a way to clear the puck. He has talent beyond his years in the defensive end and as a penalty killer, and takes pride in that aspect of his game.

His offensive skills haven’t fully developed at the NHL level yet, but that usually takes more time than the other areas. Couturier has just 5 points this season (3 goals, 2 assists), but it really seems like he’s starting to get into the flow of the game, and it was indicative in last night’s 3-2 over the Buffalo Sabres.

Couturier seemed to be everywhere on the ice, making plays near both blue lines and setting up several scoring chances. The rookie scored the game’s first goal just 1:43 into the first period, and the Flyers never looked back. He finished with 15:43 of ice time, including almost two minutes on both the power play and the penalty kill.

It looks like the Flyers made the right choice, and it will be fun to watch the talented forward grow as the season rolls on.

The Flyers take on the Devils tonight at 7:00 at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. Ben Holmstrom was lent back to the Adirondack Phantoms, so it looks like Danny Briere may be back in the lineup tonight.

You can find Buzz on Broad Flyers beat writer C.J. Burns on Twitter at @CJBurns215

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