Entering the 2020 offseason, the priorities of the Philadelphia Flyers and general manager Chuck Fletcher started and ended with re-signing some key free agents while staying under the flat, $81.5 million cap limit.
To this point, they’ve handled their contract needs fairly well, with Philippe Myers being the only restricted free agent (RFA) left to lock up.
Over the past five years, the Flyers have done a solid job setting themselves up with great-value deals for some of their brightest stars. There are certainly some brutal contracts eating away at the limited cap space, but overall, they have one of the better rosters of contracts across the entire league.
High levels of production set alongside fairly low monetary values make the best deals of the bunch pretty easy to locate.
Travis Konecny: $5.5 Million
The 2019 offseason was probably the most important of Chuck Fletcher’s career, and his first real test as the GM of the Flyers. After some earth-shattering moves, including the addition of Alain Vigneault as head coach and the monstrous signing of Kevin Hayes, Fletcher was left with two stars to financially take care of: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny.
Both 23 year-olds were rewarded handsomely, each earning a six-year extension in Philadelphia. While Provorov is obviously one of the league’s emerging defensive stars and a $6.75 million average annual value (AAV) hit isn’t bad, it’s hard to overlook the tremendous value of Konecny’s deal.
The former first-round pick in the 2015 draft was looking for a pretty significant pay raise this past offseason after becoming a fixture of the Flyers’ top-six forwards from 2017 to 2019.
After some brief disagreements on price and length, Konecny and the Flyers agreed on a six-year, $33 million deal that would keep him in orange and black through the 2024-25 season. Luckily for the Flyers, he came through in the first year of his massive new deal.
In the 2019-20 season, Konecny was on pace to tally over 75 points before the season was cut short. After 66 games, he led the team in points (61), goals (24), and power-play points (23) and finally surpassed the 50-point mark for the first time in his four-year career. He also finished right behind Jakub Voracek for the team lead in assists with 37.
Obviously, his disappointing postseason performance left a bad taste in the mouth of Flyers fans. Regardless, the value for his deal is still clearly there. If he can produce in the regular season at an almost point-per-game rate, and hopefully find his touch in the playoffs as well, then his $5.5 million cap hit will continuously prove to be one of the best-value deals on the roster.
Sean Couturier: $4.333 Million
A lot can be said about the tenure of Ron Hextall as the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. He was primarily known for his excellent drafting skills while falling a bit flat in regards to trades and contract negotiations.
With that in mind, one of the best moves of his managing career with the Flyers actually came in the form of a contract extension for one of the team’s top stars.
Yes, the Sean Couturier deal. The soon to be 28-year-old forward and most-recent Selke Award winner is headed into the second-to-last year of the beautiful act of theft that Hextall curated two years before his departure.
While the first year of the deal saw Couturier plagued by injury, posting 34 points in 66 games, the next three seasons showed just how undervalued he is. Back-to-back 30-plus goal, 76-point seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19, followed by a 59-point outing last season, showed he should be considered one of the elite centers of the game and making much more than $4,333,333 a year.
It’s certainly hard to believe that a player of such incredible talent and class can make so little, but it’s even harder to complain about having a player of that quality contribute such a small amount to the overall cap space.
If Couturier can carry out the last two years of this deal with a level of production similar to what he’s shown over the past three seasons, it could go down as one of the greatest steals in the team’s history.
Carter Hart: $730,833 (Entry-Level)
Not to undermine the negotiation skills of Chuck Fletcher, but we’ll once again turn to a Hextall stroke of genius for the final entry on this list.
Over the course of two years, Carter Hart has emerged as the most promising star the Flyers have had in years as well as one of the league’s top talents at his position. Although he’s had to split his time, mostly with Brian Elliott, through the first two seasons of his career, it’s obvious that Hart is the future starter and future of goaltending for Philadelphia.
What is arguably most impressive about Hart is that he’s successfully established himself as a true NHL starting goaltender well before the conclusion of his entry-level deal. While a new and massive deal is right on the horizon for Hart, the 2020-21 season grants the Flyers their starting netminder for just $730,833.
As fans relish in that fact after years of abysmal and disheartening goaltending, it’s also a good a time as ever to consider what a new deal might look like for Hart.
It’s been almost a decade since the Flyers truly went all-in on a goaltender, and considering how that turned out, they could be hesitant to throw a seven or eight-year deal at Hart. However, it’s been even longer since they had a goaltending prospect as promising as the 22-year-old.
If Fletcher is aiming for consistency in locking up his young stars, he’ll probably give Hart a deal similar in term, and perhaps with a slightly higher value than the deals of Konecny and Provorov.
Until that happens, though, Flyers fans can sit back and relax knowing that they’re getting another year out of their star goaltender at an incredibly low value.
Aside from Konecny, Couturier, and Hart, the Flyers do have some other fantastic contracts on their roster.
Considering his current trajectory places him among the defensive elite, potential franchise defenseman Ivan Provorov’s six-year, $40.5 million ($6.75 million AAV) deal could turn out to be one of Fletcher’s best moves with the Flyers.
On the offensive end, they’re stacked with team-friendly, great-value deals including those of the recently-extended Oskar Lindblom ($3 million AAV) and Nic Aube-Kubel ($1.075 million AAV) as well as the entry-level deal of Joel Farabee ($925,000).
With so much of their active roster being up-and-coming talent, it’s difficult to gauge just how good the value of some of their contracts are with such a small sample size. Nevertheless, they seem to be a team with better-value deals significantly outweighing the ugly ones.
As a lifelong hockey player and diehard Philadelphia Flyers fanatic, I’ve always dreamed of covering the team I grew up watching. In my work, I try to combine my knowledge of the sport’s intricate and statistical details with my perspective as a passionate fan. Bringing my love for Flyers hockey to The Hockey Writers one article at a time.