Leading the San Jose Sharks for the past three seasons has been arduous for forward Logan Couture. Despite the team’s lack of on-ice success, the Sharks’ captain turned back the clock and offensively put up the third-best season of his career. Couture scored 27 goals and 40 assists in 82 games this season, skating an average of 19 minutes a night.
Despite the impressive performance while on offense, Couture struggled with the rest of the Sharks roster on defense. Couture posted a -30 plus-minus stat, the worst of his career, and was tied for third worst on the Sharks roster alongside fellow forward Alexander Barabanov. While plus-minus doesn’t paint the entire picture, considering the historically bad goaltending for the team last year, it proves that the Sharks need extra help in order to eventually return to the playoffs.
Couture, who turned 34 in March, might be concerned he doesn’t have as much time left in order to compete for the Stanley Cup. “I would love to finish my career in San Jose, but I also want to play meaningful hockey games,” Couture told the San Jose Hockey Now podcast on Aug. 17.
Where Does Couture Fit?
Despite the defensive numbers slumping slightly, Couture will still be a fixture as one of the Sharks’ top two centers this season. The biggest question is who will be slotted onto Couture’s line. Alexander Barabanov should be a shoo-in candidate, as he and Couture played nearly 700 minutes together last season. Outside of Barabanov, it was a rotating cast of forwards, including Luke Kunin, Matt Nieto, and Noah Gregor. Only forward Michael Eyesimont seemed to form some chemistry with Couture and Barabanov, having a 59.4% corsi for at 5 on 5 (CF%) in his short 20-game stint with the Sharks.
This offseason, Sharks General Manager Mike Grier brought established forwards Anthony Duclair and Mike Hoffman in from the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadians, respectively. Grier additionally signed former sixth-overall pick Filip Zadina to a one-year, $1.1 million prove-it contract after his contract was mutually terminated by the Detroit Red Wings. With two former 30-goal scorers and an additional promising forward added into the mix, whoever ends up on Couture’s line should help solve some of the Sharks’ potential issues.
Logan Couture enters this season in the fourth year of his 8-year $8 million AAV contract. Despite the wishes of the 34-year-old forward, the reality is that Couture will have to decide within the next season or two if he would like to finish his career in San Jose or chase an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup with another organization. It’s unlikely to happen this season as Couture and his fiancée Brielle welcomed their first child, Kaden, not long ago.
Bold Prediction: Logan Couture finishes the season with 60-65 points and finishes within the top 25 of the Frank J. Selke Trophy voting.