Logan Couture ‘most complete player’ Joe Thornton has ever seen
|02.05.11 at 7:05 pm ET|
All things are relative, but ask Joe Thornton and he’ll tell you that red-hot rookie center Logan Couture is not just the best player for his age that’s he’s ever played with, but the player he’s seen with so little NHL experience.
How little? The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft is still just 21 years old. Saturday marked his 75th game in the league but just his 50th this season, and he is still considered a rookie in the eyes of the NHL.
With his game-winning power-play backhander past Tim Thomas in the first period on Saturday, Couture has 23 goals and 11 assists in 50 games. And to think the Bruins could have had him in that 2007 draft.
Instead, with the eighth pick, the Bruins selected Zach Hamill, the same Zach Hamill who was playing just his second NHL game on Saturday, first this season.
“Actually, it almost felt like my first game but at the same time I got into the speed of it the guys in the room helped me out a little bit to calm me down but it was good,” Hamill said.
It’s Couture who has been going at full tilt for the entire season, leading all NHL rookies in goals at 23. And since Couture only played in 25 regular season games at the NHL level last year, he’s still eligible for Calder Trophy consideration.
‘He’s the most complete player that I’ve seen at that age,” Thornton said. “He penalty kills, he plays power play and plays all the important minutes. By far, the Calder winner so far this year.’
There were signs of this before this year. Couture ‘ in his second stint with the Sharks last year ‘ scored seven points in 13 games.
Don’t just take Jumbo Joe’s word for it. How about the observations of the goalie Couture beat for the decisive goal.
“That Logan Couture is on fire this year,” Thomas said. “And he came in and cut across the slot on the backhand, and backhands are hard to read where they’re going. Actually, as he was releasing the puck, like I read a little bit higher blocker so I started to lift my blocker and then I came back down with it trying to close up the hole because that’s what backhands do to you. They handcuff you somehow.”
“[Marc-Eduoard] Vlasic made a great play in the neutral zone to break out,” Couture said of the power play goal. “They had a 2-on-2 and they turned it over and he hit a great stick and kind of turned it back on an odd-man rush and we capitalized on it. I don’t know if it was a lucky bounce. I think it was just a great play.’
And it was finished off by a 21-year-old phenom who is all the talk of the NHL.
“I think they had a power play before that and it was the first power play of the game,” Couture said. “We knew that special teams were going to be big tonight. Our PK was terrific. These guys don’t give up many five on five goals we knew that. To score on the power play was big. Our penalty kill probably won us the game.”
And it’s that kind of overall approach that make the Sharks believe it was fate Hamill was taken, leaving Couture on the board in June 2007.