This week, the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to contract extensions with forwards Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. In light of the deal they struck with Claude Giroux last summer, the core of this rebuild is beginning to come into focus.
Voracek, who is coming off of an All-Star season (22 G – 59 A – 81 P), will turn 26 in a few weeks. This extension, reported as an 8-year/$66 million deal, should keep the Czech right winger on Broad Street through the prime of his career. That should mean several productive seasons alongside Giroux on the top line.
Couturier, the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has shown maturity beyond his years, posting an impressive plus-18 rating as a 19-year-old rookie. His commitment to defending opponents’ top forwards and his growing skills in the face-off circle have led to consideration for the Frank J. Selke Trophy and earned him the respect of veterans throughout the league. His deal, reportedly 6-years/$26 million, brings with it the expectation of more offensive production.
The NHL salary cap will be just over $70 million this season. At this point in time, the Flyers are pressed tightly against that ceiling. These deals will provide some cost certainty as decisions on Brayden and Luke Schenn, goaltender Steve Mason and others lay just beyond the horizon over the next few years.
The financial commitment to their forwards underscores the organization’s confidence in up and coming defensemen like Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and this year’s top pick, Ivan Provorov. Who, as they continue to develop and begin to contribute at the NHL level, will do so at a very reasonable, cap-friendly cost.
Since returning from his apprenticeship in Los Angeles, GM Ron Hextall has been preaching patience and a process that keeps the long-term needs of the franchise in mind. This week’s moves are a clear sign that Hextall’s vision is clear and his plan is progressing. We may not be planning a parade for June 2016. But, better days are coming and now we can be sure that Voracek and Couturier will be a big part of it.