The 26-year-old centre from Guelph has played in 44 games this season after missing time with two surgeries, but he’s been integral to San Jose’s success. He has 29 points in those 44 games, including 10 goals.
The club has gone 27-12-5 with him active, but they’ve dipped to 14-15-1 without him.
Prior to his left fibula fracture in October of 2015, the Sharks were 3-0-0 and had outscored their opponents 12-1. He missed 23 games because of that injury and returned in December, only to miss seven more games after internal bleeding resulted from another surgery.
“I think ‘difficult’ is probably the word,” Couture said of his season to date. “Being injured is never fun, especially when they’re serious injuries. They’re tough to come back from. Your confidence kind of wavers. At least mine did, and it still does throughout these games. So it’s been a tough year.”
Despite the difficulties, Couture has proven himself as a durable and perseverant hockey player. He’s shown his leadership abilities in his first year as alternate captain and he’s growing into a more significant role on the Sharks.
It stands to reason that Couture would emerge in such a way, with seven years in San Jose thus far. The Sharks selected him ninth overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and he hasn’t looked back since, putting up 317 career points in 423 games with the team so far.
But the intangibles are really driving Couture forward, with the centre’s knack for returning from serious injuries making waves in San Jose. It helps that his natural scoring abilities are without question, plus his defensive tendencies make him a versatile forward. On a team that consistently puts up quality regular seasons only to fizzle out in the post-season, he’s the guy you look to for that extra drive.
With the Sharks’ 41-27-6 record landing them firmly at the third place spot in the Pacific Division, the playoffs will once again provide challenges for Couture to meet. And with 36 points in 56 post-season games to date, he’ll once again have the opportunity to meet those challenges head-on.