Winnipeg Jets fans know the name well.
Couturier notched a hat trick on Friday, April 13, as the Philadelphia Flyers stunned the host Pittsburgh Penguins, 8-5, to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In case you didn't know, the Flyers drafted Couturier eighth overall in the 2011 National Hockey League Draft, one pick after the Jets selected Mark Scheifele. Take a deep breath, Jets fans.
This is not the Buffalo Sabres selecting Ric Seiling ahead of Mike Bossy in the 1977 NHL Draft or every team in the NHL passing on Brett Hull at least once in the 1984 draft (Hull went 117th overall). There are more recent examples of draft day disasters, but it's way too soon to call this one of them.
I'm not saying Scheifele is a future Hall of Famer, but he remains a high-ceiling prospect. Over the last two years, he amassed 128 points (45 goals, 93 assists) in 113 Ontario Hockey League games. Scheifele showed soft hands and unteachable hockey instincts while skating with the Jets during the preseason. Besides, stick Scheifele on a line with all-world talent Claude Giroux -- like the Flyers have done with Couturier -- and he may score a few goals, too.
But there was no need to rush up the 19-year-old Scheifele, who rejoined the Barrie Colts in October and has led them to the OHL playoffs. Keep in mind, the Flyers are built to make a run at the Stanley Cup this season. The young Jets are building for the future. And they're doing it through the draft.
In the last three years, the franchise has selected core team members Alexander Burmistrov, Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian in the first round. Kane and Bogosian arguably are two of the best young players at their respective positions (left wing and defense) in the league. Furthermore, Bryan Little was the team's first pick in 2006 (12th overall) and No. 1 goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was a second-round selection in 2005. Give them some time.
And give Scheifele the benefit of the doubt.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter and supporter of all Winnipeg sports teams. He no longer dreads Winnipeg winters now that the Jets have returned to town. Follow Adam and the Jets on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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