Logan Couture is now the heart and soul of the San Jose Sharks, the new leader on the ice and in the locker room. It is a position unmanned ever since the loss of defenseman Rob Blake to retirement in 2010. Since then, Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle have each taken less-than-satisfactory turns at a position the franchise desperately needs filled in order to be successful.
Couture’s progress towards becoming the team’s captain seemingly came to a head during the regular season and on into the postseason.
Couture took over for the Sharks down the stretch, registering six goals and five assists in the final two-and-a-half weeks of the regular season, then tallying another five goals and six assists in the playoffs—which included a sweep of the No. 3 Vancouver Canucks.
It is for that reason the Sharks got a deal when re-signing Couture to a long-term extension last week. The 24-year-old signed for five years and $30 million (Mercury News), making him the highest-paid player on the roster past 2014, when Thornton and Patrick Marleau come off the books.
Six million per year is an absolute steal for San Jose, though.
Couture is often placed in the “young superstars” category with the likes of Jeff Skinner, Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin. Each of those players received contract extensions within the last year similar to Couture’s, with an annual salary in the ballpark of $6 million.
However, Couture is now the featured leader in San Jose, and Skinner, Kane and Seguin cannot quite say that yet for their respective teams.
The Sharks signed both their future scoring leader and current voice—both on the ice and in the locker room—in Couture, and $6 million per season is not nearly enough for a 24-year-old to be the driving force behind a franchise that has been historically helpless once the postseason begins.
There is also the question of sustainability when it comes to signing a young player like Couture to an extension.
His numbers have done nothing but rise since his debut in the NHL, while players like Skinner (13 goals, 11 assists in 2013) and Seguin (16 goals, 16 assists in 2013) have seen their numbers fall off since their contract extensions. (Kane is in a league of his own, though, with 23 goals and 32 assists in 2013.)
Couture tallied 21 goals and 16 assists during the 2012-13 regular season—good enough for the team lead in goals, second on the team in assists and second on the team in points on a Sharks team that boasts players like Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski.
All three of those players must take back seats to the 24-year-old now, especially since the franchise has clearly made Couture the No. 1 priority in contract extensions this offseason.
Couture’s presence on the ice was felt by every team the Sharks encountered in the final games of the regular season, as well as into the playoffs. It is that sort of talent that has made him worthy of a long-term deal, but the stats and leadership only further support the claim that Couture’s contract will pay large dividends for San Jose both in the present and the future.
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