Sean Couturier is officially a Philadelphia Flyer. The team announced that they have signed him to an entry-level deal this morning, clearly impressed with that goal he scored last night in his preseason debut. Or something. No, really, he's going to be a very good player in the NHL and it's nice to see that he has his contract.
The questions now begin to arise, though: The Flyers are at the 50 contract limit. In fact, they're two contracts over the limit after signing Blake Kessel and now Couturier. They're at 52, with the contract of Marcel Noebels falling under the slide rule this season and thus not counting against the limit.
So despite the deal, Couturier still doesn't have a huge chance at making the roster here in camp.
His contract can fall under the slide rule, just like Noebels, which will keep the Flyers under the contract limit for the year. But it only falls under that provision should he play less than 10 NHL games this season.
With their backs against the limit, the choice is to either get rid of another contract via trade or what-have-you or send Couturier back to juniors before he plays 10 NHL games -- whether that be during camp or in mid-October. Once he plays that 11th game, the slide rule goes out the window and the Flyers will officially be over the limit.
Besides that, we don't have any clue about the financial details at this point. It could throw a wrench into the salary cap situation the team faces if Couturier makes the club, but we can't really analyze that part of it yet until the dollar figures come out.
You'd have to imagine that the Flyers are at least giving him a shot to make the team, and that's what giving him this contract symbolizes, but it still doesn't make too much sense. We haven't seen too much of him just yet, and hopefully we'll have a clearer picture of what he can bring after some more preseason action, but he doesn't look NHL ready.
Of course, he's also at that awkward age where he can't play at the AHL level but also isn't seemingly ready for the NHL level. So do the Flyers send him back to juniors, away from their coaching staff and away from the organization, where he's going to dominate every night and not really grow as a player?
It's a game of limbo, and none of the options are really all that great.