Just a few weeks ago there were some dire reports Sean Couturier might miss considerable playing time this season due to complications from his February back surgery.
After learning he wouldn’t need a second surgery, the Flyers’ standout center could at least breathe a sigh of relief.
On Sunday, he sounded downright positive after skating/light practicing for about 45 minutes in conjunction with a team workout session at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J..
He was able to shoot some pucks and work on stickhandling. Checking, however, is still out of the question.
There’s still no official timetable for a possible return to action but at least Couturier hasn’t run into roadblocks yet.
He disclosed he’s been skating since last Thursday and it appears the plan is to proceed cautiously before doing anything too physically demanding.
“Getting back on the ice is a step in the right direction,’’ Couturier said. “Going gradually here, every day doing a little more. See how it responds every day and how it goes.’’
Couturier said he didn’t want to put speculate on when a return might be possible.
“Really day to day,’’ he said. “I’m not sure. They (trainers) are trying to evaluate me every day and see how I progress. The goal is really just to be a hundred percent when I get back – not have to deal with anything all year.’’
Asked to put a number on what percentage he’s at right now in terms of getting to one hundred percent healthy, Couturier shook his head.
“I’m not going to put a number on it,’’ he said. “Just pushing myself everyday to get better. So far it’s been going well.
“I’d like to go out there and rip pucks at a hundred miles an hour. But the trainers are really holding me back. Just anxious to get back with the group and get going.’’
Coach John Tortorella has to be pleased by the progress Couturier is making.
“I haven’t talked to the trainers but it (a return) certainly isn’t opening night,’’ the coach said. “What it comes down to in days or weeks, I’m not sure.
“I know he’s in good spirits. He feels good. We’ll just see what happens when we get going. When we revved it up, that’s when he struggled a little bit. But he’s in good spirits which I think is the main thing with athletes who are going through this stuff, their attitude toward it.’’
>Noah Cates gets high marks
Noah Cates had a strong finish to what amounted to his first season in the NHL last year and Tortorella noted he might have had the best training camp of the 70-some players who started back on Sept. 22.
Cates is versatile, can play either wing or center.
“For a coach, it (the versatility) is really good to have,’’ Tortorella said. “The thing with him, it’s not just playing a couple positions, he’s a pretty smart player, too.
“So you can bounce him around all the lines right up through the lineup. I’m going to have him at center because of our need at center. I think he can think the game really well. He’s right there at the top as far as the camp he had. He’s here, he deserves to be here. You can see how cerebral he is about the game.’’
>MacEwen, Marody on waivers
The Flyers announced both Zack MacEwen and Cooper Marody were placed on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Those moves reduce the Flyers roster to 30 players. Final rosters have to be submitted to the NHL by Monday afternoon. The Flyers open their season on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.
One of the final 23 or so spots figures to be filled by veteran Cam Atkinson, who’s been banged up. As for whether he can be ready for the Devils, that’s a decision Tortorella and general manager Chuck Fletcher will have to make sometime Monday.
Tortorella still hasn’t decided on what his opening night roster will look like. He did say he’s committed to the top two defense pairings of Tony DeAngelo-Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen. The number 5 and 6 spots are still up for grabs. The four forward lines are still a work in progress.