Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Sharks insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every weekday leading up to the start of training camp. The above video is from Oct. 2015.
Name/Position: Logan Couture, C
Salary cap hit: $6 million, signed through 2019-20
2015-16 year in review: The first half of last season was a nightmare for Logan Couture, who suffered a fractured ankle after three games and then a dangerous internal bleeding injury in his thigh just two games into his return from the ankle injury. The Sharks missed the first-year alternate captain’s presence, too, as they hovered around the .500 mark under a new coaching regime until around Christmas.
Couture’s return, though, provided a huge boost that the Sharks rode right to the Stanley Cup Final. San Jose posted a combined 46-25-5 regular season and playoff record with Couture in the lineup, as the second line center posted 36 points in 52 games in the regular season before taking off in the playoffs with a league-high 30 points.
2016-17 outlook: Couture will again center the second line, and there’s a good chance he’ll be getting a new linemate, too. Mikkel Boedker was signed in the offseason and should immediately slot into the top six, and the most likely place he ends up is on the left side of Couture with Joonas Donskoi on the right. Couture and Donskoi had great chemistry in the postseason, and Boedker should bring some good speed –- along with a little more skill and tenacity –- than anyone else on the roster at this point. It would be a fun line to watch, too.
As for Couture, the Sharks likely hope he’s able to build off of his playoff performance, which had to be the best hockey the 27-year-old has ever played in his NHL career. The Team Canada brain trust certainly noticed Couture’s run, choosing him to replace an injured Jamie Benn on its World Cup roster ahead of such skilled scoring forwards as Corey Perry and Taylor Hall.
Although it’s a short offseason, Couture is reportedly trying to add some size to his six-foot-one frame. He told the London Free Press in late July he’s up to 210 pounds, after he was listed at an even 200 last season. That will be something to monitor in training camp, as the added size sometimes reduces a player’s explosiveness or mobility. Or, perhaps it helps Couture to endure the rigors of an 82-game regular season, and he’s better than ever.