Josh Couturier is well aware his path to the 2013 NHL Draft is the road less traveled.
It just means the Boston Junior Bruins standout has a little extra work to gives scouts a reason to re-route through the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
“For a league that is not scouted as much as the USHL or Major Junior, I need to make sure I am bringing my best to the table every game,” Couturier admitted. “I need to make sure that I am doing all the little things right, but also making big plays and trying to ‘jump off the page’.”
Early in the season, the Newbury, MA product has done just that. Though he has just one point through the Junior Bruins first 17 games, Couturier has already caught the eye of scouts from the back end.
“First year draft eligible players are often overlooked coming from the EJHL,” Future Considerations scouting director Dan Stewart said. “With that said, Couturier is one of the few this year attempting to break that trend. With a good year playing for the Junior Bruins, Couturier should get the attention of NHL scouts.”
But Couturier isn’t putting too much pressure on himself to draw scouts to EJHL rinks. Instead, the six-foot-one, 160-pound defenseman is keeping things business as usual.
“It doesn’t feel any different playing in my draft year,” he declared. “I just have to keeping playing my game. I know there are scouts up in the stands, but I try not to think about it and just go out there and perform to the best of my ability night in and night out.”
Chris Masters, program director and head coach/general manager for the Junior Bruins U18’s, said keeping Couturier’s head in the game and not on the draft has been a simple, easy task.
“I don’t think it has been an issue at all,” said Masters, who has helped guide Couturier’s hockey career through his teenage years. “His focus has been on improving as a player and helping his team win. I don’t see any ‘hype’ affecting his play. The EJHL is tough enough without letting something you can’t control get in the way and we haven’t seen Josh letting it affect his play.”
And that level-headed play, combined with a strong showing throughout the season with the Junior Bruins, could have Couturier traveling to New Jersey this June for the 2013 NHL Draft.
You decided to stay with the Junior Bruins program this season instead of heading over to the USHL. How did you come to that decision?
I came to the decision to play for the Junior Bruins instead of going out to the USHL because my family and I felt it was the right fit. I will be able to finish up strong academically at my high school and get an opportunity to be a major contributor to the Bruins night in and night out. I also really like my coach Peter Masters; he is always pushing me to get better.
On such a young Boston Junior Bruins team, who do you turn to for draft advice?
On such a young team it is hard to turn to teammates for advice because nobody has been through the process. However one person I turn to is my strength and conditioning coach Eddie Hill, he has been through the process and was drafted by Nashville in the second round. He gives me some insight on what to expect during the process.
How much have you paid attention to your fellow draft class, whether it be keeping tabs on Nathan MacKinnon or some former teammates in the same age category?
I try to keep tabs of mostly my former teammates, as well as kids i have play against. One of my former teammates was Adam Erne. Adam and I are good friends and whenever I get a chance I like to watch highlights of him scoring a big goal or making a big hit.
What went into your decision to commit to Northeastern? How strongly did you consider PEI of the QMJHL and is that still an option in your mind?
First, I chose the college route over Major Junior because I wanted to get an education, and by choosing the college route it will give my game a chance to mature both physically and mentally, which I feel I will need to make it to the next level.
The reason I choose Northeastern was because of the academics and coach (Jim) Maddigan and his staff. They really like my game and what I have to offer when I arrive on campus in 2014. Growing up in the Boston area Northeastern will give my family a chance to watch me play, especially in the Beanpot, which I have been dreaming of playing in since a was a little kid. I do not consider Major Junior because my parents and I feel that getting an education is very important.
What do you see your strengths as out on the ice?
On the ice I see my strengths to be my skating, my ability to be tough, and playing good solid shut down defense. As a big kid I have quick feet and I am able to get up and down the ice quick. I am not afraid to throw my body around and stick up for my teammates, and I can sort things out in the defensive zone, and make big plays when needed.
At the same time, what do you feel you need to improve upon?
I feel that I could improve on my offense ability and making good tape-to-tape passes. I want to improve on finding those seam passes through the neutral and offensive zone, and picking my head up at the blue line and making sure my shot gets through to the net.