Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of NHL training camp.
Name/Position: Logan Couture, center
Salary: $6 million
Contract status: Signed through 2018-19 ($6 million cap hit)
2013-14 year in review: It wasn’t a very enjoyable season for Logan Couture, who missed significant time with a broken right hand, was left off of Team Canada’s roster for the Olympics, and was one of a number of key players that struggled late in the first round meltdown against Los Angeles. Although the offensive production was still there, with 54 points (23g, 31a) in 65 regular season games, you can bet that Couture expects even more from himself this season as his new five-year, $30 million contract extension kicks in.
2014-15 outlook: When it comes to two-way NHL players, there are few better than Couture, who is tied for 10th in the NHL with 107 goals in the past four seasons, and was tied for seventh in the NHL among forwards in blocked shots last year (68).
He’s one of the few untouchables on the Sharks roster, and is probably going to assume more of a leadership role now that his contract extension makes him one of the team’s cornerstones. He’s earned that with his play, but also with his attitude, as Couture seems to take losses harder than anyone else in the team’s dressing room.
It’s doubtful Couture’s on-ice role will change much this season, even if he’s expected to take on more responsibility off of it. He’ll again be a center on one of the top two lines, and he’ll probably start with Patrick Marleau on his left again, as the two were paired for virtually all of last season with consistently solid results.
He’ll get plenty of power play time, too, although it should be noted that he was taken off of the top unit late last season in favor of Brent Burns. For the ultra-competitive six-foot-one, 200-pounder, that didn’t sit well, so look for Couture to make sure he’s once again in that dangerous five-some. Penalty-killing will also still be on his list of responsibilities, considering Todd McLellan once called Couture the Sharks' best penalty-killing forward.
Couture’s offseason featured left hand surgery, after he broke it in a Game 6 fight with the Kings’ Mike Richards. He’s expected to be fully healthy by the time training camp begins, and the Sharks will need him to stay that way if they expect to be a top team in the Western Conference. The 25-year-old is now entering what should be the prime years of his career.