Flyers grab Couturier at No. 8

The Flyers selected center Sean Couturier with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round of the NHL draft. (Andy King/AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With the No. 8 overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers selected... a player very few thought would slide to the No. 8 spot in center Sean Couturier.

Couturier was ranked as the No. 5 overall draft pick by the central scouting agencies. At one point during the scouting rankings, Couturier was ranked as the No. 1 available prospect.

It was a surprising turn of events in not only that Couturier fell to No. 8, but that the Flyers decided on a center instead of a defenseman just one day after Paul Holmgren unloaded Jeff Carter and Mike Richards because of an “overload” at the position.

The Flyers likely would have selected Dougie Hamilton, a strong, two-way defenseman from the OHL if Couturier had not been available. Hamilton went to Boston at No. 9 instead.

In a near instantaneous interview on TSN after making the pick, Holmgren said he “never thought” Couturier would still be on the board.

Earlier in the week, Holmgren said the Flyers would pick the best player available regardless of position.

Couturier racked up 96 points in 58 games for Drumondville (QMJHL) this past this season. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, the 18-year-old already has a full-sized frame. He is slated to top out at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. The scouting reports list him as a solid, two-way forward with good penalty killing abilities. The one weakness reported is his skating. His speed turning and pivoting is said to be subpar.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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