'Just play hockey': Healthy Couturier set to skate with Flyers

Sean Couturier will skate in a game for the first time in 20 months on Monday.

The Philadelphia Flyers' forward had back surgery twice since 2021 and last played a game in December of that year. The 30-year-old said he feels "pretty good" since training camp began, but knows there's a bit of rust to shake in the coming weeks.

"I've been waiting for this moment for a while," Couturier said Monday, before the Flyers faced the New Jersey Devils in the preseason opener.

"All summer I've been thinking about it and now I'm here. I'm just excited to get warmups going and get that first shift out of the way, just play hockey. I think that's what I miss most."

The Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2019-20, Couturier is penciled in for the top line this season. He's a two-time 30-goal scorer and, along with Cam Atkinson, brings firepower to the Flyers the team missed last season.

Atkinson sat out the 2023-23 season with a herniated disk in his neck.

"It can get physical at times in these exhibition games. It's a good test. I'm not scared of it and I'm looking forward to it," Couturier said.

The Flyers are undergoing a rebuild, and Couturier is among few high-priced veterans still with the club. His return might not signal a rise up the standings in the clogged Eastern Conference, but his experience should help a young club, on and off the ice.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.