Editor's note: Over the next month, CSNCalifornia.com Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.
Shark spotlight -- the series
Sharks spotlight: Logan CoutureAge: 23 CIn his second full season with the Sharks, Logan Couture had31 goals and 34 assists for 65 points and 16 penalty minutes in 80 games. Hewas tied for first on the team in goals and tied for second in scoring. Coutureadded a goal and three assists in five playoff games. Hes signed through2013-14.Kurz says: A Calder Trophy finalist last season, the weightof repeating his impressive rookie season weighed on Couture early, andit took him six games to register his first goal. He quickly settled in afterthat, and was arguably the Sharks best player through the first half, whichresulted in an All-Star selection (and now infamous last pick in the leaguesfantasy draft)
Post All-Star break, though, was a different story.Coutures struggles down the stretch were evident as the team struggled tomaintain its playoff position, and the center had just four goals in the last19 games after the trade deadline. Although he denied it in March, health wasalmost certainly the primary reason for the decline. Couture missed two gameson Feb. 28 and March 1 with a lower body injury as a result of some hard hitsin a game in Minnesota, and it was later revealed he was playing through alingering shoulder injury that dated back to 2010. He had surgery after theseason.SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: Couture had a much tougher assignment inhis second full season, than his first.Not just the pressure of repeating a 30 goal 50 point rookiecampaign, but doing so with a much greater target on his back. Other teams clearly took more notice ofLogan, watched more tape of Logan, and put more sticks and bodies on the Caldercandidate of a season ago. (See Feb 26thvs. Minnesota as a prime example). Whichmakes it all the more impressive that he broke the 30 goal plateau again, whileupping his assist total by 10. Thatscalled responding to the pressure.If Coutures career were a house, he would have thefoundation and most of the framework already in place. Whether hes got 16 points in 12 games (Jan21-Feb 16), or he hasnt scored in 10 games (Mar 15 Mar 31), Logan brings acertain consistency to his game every night.Hes a playmaker, a good skater, and always seems to be ahead of theplay.From my rinkside position, one of the best perspectives isthe ability to watch the faces of players.Logans eyes are an impressive study, especially when hes coming intothe offensive zone; its like hes got the experience of a 10 year NHL vet, andthat hes just executing a plan he might have crafted 2 shifts prior. 2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Couture is expected to be fully healthy at thestart of next season, and will obviously be counted on to be a key part of theoffense. Theres little doubt that hes one of the cornerstones of thefranchise, and a possible future team captain. Thats why general manager DougWilson reportedly made him a non-starter in any talks regarding Rick Nash, andits hard to imagine any situation in which Wilson would change his mind inthat regard.No one except Couture himself knows just how much thatshoulder injury and various other bumps and bruises held him back, and welllikely never know, as he isnt one to make any sort of excuse for a lack ofproduction. If he stays healthy next season, the 23-year-old could easily findhimself among the leagues premier goal scorers.RELATED: Coutures stats splits game logs
Brodie says: Loganhad surgery on his left shoulder just a few days after the season ended. I caught up with him 2 weeks later, where the(minimal) scar was already healing and the recovery process was underway. It was Coutures first time under the knife,and went routinely. He stuck around SanJose to make sure all was well with the procedure, before heading back toOntario for the summer. Bottom line: noreason to expect 39 wont be rip-roaring ready to go, come training camp.It is stating the obvious to say that Couture does well witha healthy Ryane Clowe on his side. Notonly does the burly winger offer a certain level of protection, he also is ableto work the walls, and frequently find Couture in the scoring area. Having at least one linemate of this skillset would seem to set Logan up for the most success in the near future. In a summer where the Sharks ownership has used the wordchange, and the teams coaching staff are likely to implement significantalterations, there is one thing nobody wants to be any different and that isLogan Couture.
Up next: Marc-Edouard Vlasic