There were reports last week that the Flyers had signed 2011 draft pick Derek Mathers to an entry-level contract, and Mathers himself confirmed as much on Thursday. There's now some officially official confirmation as well. Mathers' OHL team, the Peterborough Petes, have announced that Mathers has indeed signed that contract with the club.
By rule of the collective bargaining agreement, Mathers' entry-level deal is three years in length. As a 2011 draft pick, he'll earn $925,000 in each of the three years he serves under this deal. Mathers will likely remain in the OHL next season, thus allowing his contract to "slide," beginning in the 2013-14 season instead.
Mathers played nine games with the Adirondack Phantoms last season on an amateur tryout contract, racking up zero points and 26 penalty minutes in those games. In two seasons so far with the Petes, Mathers has compiled 348 penalty minutes and 32 points in 120 games. He fought 22 times in the OHL last season and twice in the AHL according to HockeyFights.com.
Mathers is a goon, plain and simple, and in an era where these guys see ever-diminishing roles at the NHL level, it's frustrating when the Flyers waste precious contract space and an even more-precious draft pick on such a player. He might be the greatest enforcer to ever grace the organization, but we're of the strong belief that there's really not much need for that sort of player anymore. Not when Jody Shelley barely plays as it is.
Remember back to last September. A highly-skilled forward prospect named Tomas Hyka attended Flyers camp and the team was even thinking about offering him a contract before learning, perhaps thanks to a BSH story, that the CBA didn't allow his signing. We later learned that the Flyers were thinking about drafting Hyka late in the 2011 draft, but instead opted to grab Mathers with their seventh round pick. As we wrote at the time:
In the grand scheme of things, missing out on an undrafted 18 year old isn't the end of the world. But what makes it absolutely infuriating (besides the fact that they didn't understand the details of the CBA again) is that the Flyers knew Hyka was on the board in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, they thought about drafting him, and then decided to take big goon Derek Mathers instead.
In [former Delco Times beat writer Anthony] SanFilippo's story yesterday, the Flyers source he quoted made a comparison between Hyka and Claude Giroux. Whether that's fair or not, the comparison was made by somebody in the organization. And they chose a pair of fists over that. How does this make any sense?
Now, Hyka is one of 105 top prospects who will join the 2012 NHL Draft Combine at the end of the month, and he'll almost certainly be drafted by somebody in the 2012 draft.
Is it fair to pin that on Mathers? No, absolutely not. Let's hope he becomes the best enforcer the team has ever seen now that he's signed. But this signing (and the original draft choice) is still a frustrating continuation of what's becoming a slowly extinct role in the NHL.