The Philadelphia Flyers have just been hit with a devastating injury.
According to a report from Flyers insider Dave Isaac of USA Today Flyers star forward Sean Couturier has aggravated an existing injury and will now miss significant time as a result. Isaac is reporting that the injury is to the MCL in his right knee and it's important to note that this is not a new injury so there has to be some real concern here for the Flyers regarding arguably one of the best two way forwards in the game today.
The injury is now expected to force Couturier out for a minimum of 4 weeks and that means he will miss all of training camp and the majority of the National Hockey League's preseason games. Based on the timeline that has been provided here we can expect that the earliest possible return for Couturier will be on the 19th of September, a date that would put him in line to return for the 4th of 6 preseason contests that the Flyers will participate in.
Not only is a reoccurring knee injury a big red flag for the Flyers but the fact that Couturier will get such a slow start to the season also has to be a significant concern for the Flyers. That being said though Couturier is an elite NHL forward and I have no doubt that he will return to that form during the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season even if it does take him a few more games than the Flyers would have expected or would have liked. Additionally Couturier has often showcased his toughness during his time as a Flyer by playing through significant injuries in the past and I'm sure that no one is more frustrated about having to sit out the next four weeks than Couturier himself.
Perhaps the biggest concern to come out of all of this however will be just how much this injury will impact Couturier who is coming off inarguably the best season of his professional career. Couturier elevated his game to an incredible last season recording 31 goals and 45 assists for a very impressive 76 points over 82 games played. Additionally as I mentioned Couturier is one of the best two way players in the game and his plus minus rating of +34 at the end of the season, in spite of very poor goaltending from the Flyers, was yet another indication of that fact. By comparison his previous high for goals was 15, his previous high for assists was 28 and his previous high for point total was 39. You have to wonder whether or not Couturier can maintain that incredible form moving forward coming off the back of not just one but two serious MCL injuries.
Update: General manager Ron Hextall has now refuted the original report and is claiming that this is not the aggravation of an existing injury. Hextall claims that the injury occurred on August 10th in Quebec and added that Couturier had fully healed from his previous injury when this injury occurred. Hextall did admit that the injury was to the MCL in his right knee but added that it was "not the exact same spot."