The 30-year-old underwent back surgery twice since 2021, and hasn't played a regular-season game since December of that year.
“I've been waiting for this moment for a while,” Couturier said before the Flyers faced the New Jersey Devils on Monday, according to ESPN.
“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.”
Officially, it has been 20 months since Couturier last played. Despite the long layoff, he said he felt “pretty good” to get back into game action for the first time.
Before the injury, Couturier was one of the best players on the Flyers roster, back when Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek were still employed by the team. He won the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, and has scored 30 goals twice in his career.
The Phoenix, AZ native didn't shy away from returning to game action, winning 10 of 18 faceoffs while logging 18:05 of ice time in the team's 6-0 loss to the Devils.
“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 explained.
Although the Flyers are in the midst of a rebuild, the addition of Couturier to the roster will be a huge boost to a team that has struggled mightily over the last few seasons.
“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,” wrote ESPN on Monday.
Pencil Sean Couturier into a top line spot as the former star looks to return to top form with the only NHL club he's ever known in 2023-24.