VOORHEES, N.J. – Owen Tippett scored a career-high 27 goals last season without Sean Couturier as his center.
Imagine what that number could expand to this year if Couturier can stay healthy and anchor a line with Tippett on it.
Even though Tippett’s been here since the Claude Giroux trade with Florida back in March, 2022, the right wing hasn’t had a chance to play with Couturier yet because the veteran Flyer has been sidelined by a pair of back surgeries.
Couturier played in a preseason game at the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and the first returns from that performance indicate the 30-year pivot is pretty much all the way back.
That means either Tippett or Travis Konecny will contend for time on the right side of the Couturier line, unless someone switches over to the left or another player such as Cam Atkinson is involved.
“Well, for ‘Coots,’ I haven’t played with him personally but seeing the way he’s kind of battled through those two injuries, come back and put the work in, he’s looked really good,” Tippett said the other day at the Flyers Training Center. “I’m excited to have him back with us.”
If nothing else, the two will probably be playing together on the power play. The Flyers finished dead last in that category last year (below 15 percent) and they can use all the firepower they can get with the man advantage.
A chance to play with Couturier would almost certainly boost Tippett’s numbers.
“Yeah, that would be awesome,” Tippett said. “To see a guy like that who hasn’t played in two years, he’s obviously going to be hungry, ready to go. For me to play with a guy like that, that experience and as good a player as he is, it would be something special for sure.”
Tippett admits if the two do play together, there will be some sort of period of adjustment. But professional players adjust quickly. That’s what training camp is for.
“I think if we do get the chance to play together, get used to playing with each other, it will be good,” Tippett said.
As usual, Tippett put in a lot of work over the summer. He’s being counted on to help boost a team offense which didn’t exactly overwhelm the NHL last season.
“Obviously you’re looking to get bigger, faster, stronger,” he said. “Improve your game anyway you can. I think the biggest thing taken out of last year was just the confidence of kind of knowing where I can be and what I can kind of bring.”
Already, even though he’s only 24 years old, Tippett has the Flyers believing he can be helpful in bringing along some of the younger prospects.
That was part of the message he took from coach John Tortorella in an address to the team on the opening day of training camp.
“He said we have a pretty young core and there’s going to be spots available,” Tippett said. “He said if you think you have a spot, don’t get too comfortable. Everyone’s got to prove something.”
Tippett did a lot of proving last year. His 27 goals in 77 games surpassed his output in three previous seasons with Florida (plus a partial in Philly) of 24 goals in 115 games.
That’s moving things in the right direction. Having Couturier at the center of things can only help the cause.
The Flyers have signed goaltender Carson Bjarnason to a three-year, entry-level contract, according to GMr Daniel Briere. Bjarnason, 18, was selected by the Flyers in the second round (51st overall) of the 2023 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound native of Carberry, Manitoba, went 21-19-6 with a 3.08 goals-against average, a .900 save percentage and three shutouts in 47 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League during the 2022-23 season.