The Philadelphia Flyers are continuing to be at the center of the NHL offseason.
Announced by the team on Thursday afternoon, they have signed top center Sean Couturier to an eight-year, $62-million ($7.75-million AAV) contract. Keeping him with the Flyers through the 2029-2030 season.
OFFICIAL: COOTS, THERE IT IS! ✍️ https://t.co/JplnEOfxa8— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 26, 2021
With just one year remaining on his sweetheart of a deal signed all the way back in 2015, the Flyers were facing a tough decision if no extension was signed before the season-opener. Wading through different team expectations, Couturier is easily one of the best two-way centers in the entire NHL and is a tough player to keep — but that’s exactly what GM Chuck Fletcher was able to do weeks before training camp.
What was once feared to be a gigantic extension, with a cap hit of just $7.75-million (not even above Claude Giroux’s current cap hit) it signals Couturier’s desire to stay in Philadelphia and keep this team competitive, shaving off a couple million compared to what he’s worth and what he could have gotten next summer as an unrestricted free agent.
After a somewhat slow start to his NHL career in terms of offensive production, Couturier’s last four seasons are by far what earned him the 2020 Selke Trophy, keeping that reputation as a defensively responsible forward but earning heaps and piles and mountains of points along the way. Back-to-back 76-point campaigns in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and still keeping that trajectory of 59 points in 69 games the following season. Even last year, he was almost a point-per-game with 41 in 45.
The former eighth overall pick is going to turn 29 years old during the upcoming season, meaning that this deal will take him well into his late-30s, but with his style of play — slowing the game down to his speed and still being able to be extremely effective at both ends of the ice — there is certainly a trajectory for him to beat the aging curve and not have fans barking online about his cap hit causing problems.
Almost immediately, this is one contract that is going to be heralded as one of the league’s best when taking in the context of buying up every single UFA year Couturier was set to have. I guess he just loves this damn team and wants good players on this team.