By Aaron Bell
Sean Couturier knows that he is a bit different than the rest of his Team Canada teammates.
Couturier, the Drummondville Voltigeurs’ top scorer, is the only member of the team that has not been drafted by an NHL team but he isn’t letting that get in his way of contributing to Canada’s golden quest.
Couturier picked up an assist in Canada’s tournament opening win over Russia on Boxing Day and hasn’t looked one bit out of place in the tournament.
“I was pretty anxious to start, pretty nervous,” Couturier admitted. “But after that first period things just kept going better and it just has to keep going better and better every game. It’s all in the mind, pretty much. (I had) little butterflies in the stomach but once the puck drops, you’re ready and you just think about playing out there.”
Couturier only has about sixth months to wait before he’ll join his teammates as NHL drafted prospects. He was the International Scouting Service’s top rated prospect for the NHL Entry Draft this June in Minneapolis in their December rankings and his appointment to Canada’s mostly 19-year-old squad is a testament to his skill.
“Since I was young I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NHL and have made a lot of sacrifices,” Couturier said. “But I’ve always wanted to play.”
Despite being Canada’s only draft-eligible prospect and the top rated prospect playing in the tournament, Couturier said that the draft is the furthest thing from his mind these days.
“I’m not thinking about the draft at all,” said Couturier, who is still among the QMJHLs scoring leaders with 16 goals and 52 points in 32 games with the Voltigeurs.
“I’m focused on just winning the gold medal and that’s what matters the most right now.”
Couturier already has an impressive hockey resume.
The 18-year-old was born in Phoenix, Arizona while his father Sylvain played in the International Hockey League. They moved to Bathurst, NB when Sean was a youngster. He was the second overall pick in the 2008 QMJHL draft and helped the Voltigeurs win the QMJHL’s President’s Trophy and advance to the MasterCard Memorial Cup that year in Rimouski, QC. That summer, Couturier helped Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 championship.
“Overall that year was great going to the Memorial Cup and making the Under-18 team,” Couturier said. “Winning the Ivan Hlinka tournament was a lot of fun and it was great to play with those great players.”
Couturier is obviously looking forward to another shot at a gold medal with Canada’s National Junior team.
The Canadians fell behind Russia in Sunday’s tournament-opening game but they rallied to tie the game and took control with three unanswered goals in the third period on their way to a 6-3 win.
“I think we kept good focus and knew we could come back,” Couturier said. “So, we kept positive and it was good for us. I think everyone stepped up tonight at different times and that was key for us.”