The Philadelphia Flyers have signed star center Sean Couturier to an eight-year contract extension that will start in the 2022-23 season. Couturier has one more season on his current deal and would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer. The new extension will carry an average annual value of $7.75MM and runs through 2029-30. Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press reports that it will include a full no-movement clause in the first seven years, and a Couturier will be required to submit a 10-team trade list in the final season. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher released a statement on the deal:
We are excited to announce Sean’s long term extension with the Flyers today. As one of the premier two-way centers in the NHL, Sean has the rare talent to shut down opposing team’s top players while also contributing at a high offensive level. Throughout his 10 year career with the Flyers, he has proven to be the ultimate teammate. He carries an enormous presence inside our dressing room due to his preparation, determination and drive to win.
CapFriendly provides the full contract breakdown:
- 2022-23: $1.75MM salary + $6.0MM signing bonus
- 2023-24: $4.0MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
- 2024-25: $4.0MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
- 2025-26: $4.0MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
- 2026-27: $1.75MM salary + $6.0MM signing bonus
- 2027-28: $1.5MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
- 2028-29: $1.5MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
- 2029-30: $1.5MM salary + $5.0MM signing bonus
There’s absolutely no doubt that Couturier is one of the Flyers’ most important (if not the most important) players, and every day that passed was getting him closer to unrestricted free agency. Still, this is a huge commitment for the Philadelphia front office, given that he’ll turn 30 just a few months into the first year of the extension.
Currently 28, Couturier is one of the most effective two-way centers in the entire league and took home the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive player in 2020. He has received votes for the award in nine of ten seasons and has been a finalist in the past. When his offense took a huge step forward in 2017 it turned him from a strong checking forward to a true top-line center, capable of near point-per-game production. He has hit the 30+ goal mark twice, posted a career-high of 76 points in two seasons, and registered 41 points in 45 games this year. There are only a handful of players in the league who can impact the game as much as Couturier, given how effective he is in all three zones.
Still, while this deal may be a bargain in the next few years, it’s hard to expect Couturier to keep up his level of play throughout. He’s now signed for the entire decade and already has more than 700 NHL games under his belt playing a relatively physical style of hockey. There’s no telling what his decline phase will look like, but a deal of this length could become an issue if his offensive production falters even a little bit.
That’s a problem for the future though, as the Flyers try to capitalize on this core and compete for the Stanley Cup. The team went out and revamped the defensive group, bringing in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle this offseason, and swapped a pair of veteran forwards by sending Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Cam Atkinson. With Claude Giroux signed for just one more season, James Van Riemsdyk under contract for just two, the time is now for the Flyers to strike.
The $7.75MM cap hit ties him with young Andrei Svechnikov, who signed a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes earlier today, for the 49th highest in the league for 2022-23. He will likely be knocked a few spots down by other extensions and contracts, but that’s likely a number that Couturier could have eclipsed on the open market, had he waited. That obviously wouldn’t have come with the eight-year term though, something that likely gives him security through the end of his career.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
This is not gonna look good for the final few years.
meh, it’s a solid cap hit for a guy who has been underpaid for a long time. Even when he wasn’t a point per game type producer, he was still a shutdown center, and I don’t imagine that going away. Bergeron/Kopitar may be more exception than rule, but they are good comps that the Flyers are hoping Couturier’s career path will continue to follow into his thirties, where the offense doesn’t take a cliff dive. I like the deal, and I think that while the 8th year isn’t available on the open market, a $9 mil over 7 deal would have been. Good job getting out ahead.
He has never been a PPG player. For comparisons sake:
Couturier: .64PPG career, 69.2gp average, 7.75AAV
Bergeron: .80PPG career, 67.2gp average, 6.875AAV
Kopitar: .89PPG career, 75.2gp average. 10AAV.
If you think Couts is as good as Kopi or Bergeron you’re delusional. They are both much better offensively and defensively at their increased ages.
Couts is not a bad player, and this contract may be about fair value now, but with the game he plays it is not likely to age well.
You are using career averages with one lock and another likely Hall of Famer. Last 4 years, Couturier has 252 points in 276 games. Not PPG but he’s in the vicinity. Also he has been making $4.33AAV or LESS while compiling those career stats you show.
Comparing Bergeron & Kopitar’s last four years doesn’t really get us what we are aiming for but here they are: Bergeron 244 games, 246 points. Kopitar 289 games, 264 points.
What I think is more telling would be their ages 25-28 seasons, a direct comp to Couturier’s last four years.
Couturier: 276 games, 252 points
Bergeron age 25-28: 276 games, 205 points (WHAT?!)
Kopitar age 25-28: 290 games, 252 points (HUH?)
oh no what happened to your argument? Looks like Couturier has a HIGHER PPG than both of them during what could be described as 4 pretty prime NHL player years.
Kidding aside, Couturier started very slowly as a 19 year old, defensively strong, but it took a long time for his offensive game to catch up to him at this level. Kopitar and Bergeron also had their ups and down offensively, but they have been more consistent their entire careers. Talking about Couturier’s next phase, one can only hope he follows in their career path footsteps. If he continues to come close, this contract will be WELL WORTH IT.
I guess I’ll stick to my delusions. Both of those players are NOT ‘much better’ whatever that means, especially in the defensive end of the game and in the face-off circle, Couturier is right there with them. The ‘game he plays’ need some clarification too, as he’s not a physical banger by any means and I don’t know why he’d have any greater chance of falling off a cliff than those two, outside of them potentially being Hall of Fame outliers.
Agree to disagree then. He is an elite 2C but probably not a 1C. IMO the deal is either 3 years too long, or about 4M too rich. The guy plays hard minutes and goes to the hard areas. That’s gonna take a toll, just ask guys like Ryan Smyth. He wasn’t throwing big hits either, but played the hard minutes in the hard areas. It took its toll in his final few years.
By no means am I saying he is a bad player and it’s a massive overpay. It’s a small overpay, or a little too long. But it’s not my teams cap or my money so good for him.
Sticking to delusions sounds about right. Let’s take a look at some other star players from Bergeron’s draft year. Nathan Horton’s been retired for seven years. Mike RIchards for five. Thomas Vanek started declining six years ago and has been gone for two. Dion Phaneuf’s been gone for two and started his decline a decade ago. Weber, Backes and Erikkson are done now. Thanks to the 32 team league, some of these guys are still around — Parise, Burns, Getzlaf, Perry, Carter, Suter, Staal, Halak — but each and every one of them is in decline, and some in sharp decline. Exactly two other guys in Bergeron’s draft year are still maintaining a high standard of play: Marc-Andre Fleury and Joe Pavelski.
The moral of the story is that you just do not give eight year extensions to guys who are about to turn thirty. For every Bergeron or Fleury, you get a heap of faded or broken heroes. This is a contract the Flyers will regret halfway through, and will have to eat well before the end.
So what is the alternative? Let him walk in free agency? Trade him at the deadline regardless of your teams playoff status? You remove Couturier, and all short-term potential crashes. Not that the Flyers are winning any cups here, but they are making a ‘win-now push’ with the off-season moves they have made, all of which would be pointless if they didn’t lock up Couturier. And this is the length and price it took to do so. If it was a shorter term deal you’d be complaining about the higher cap hit. This is what contracts are the in the cap hit era, give and take and hope for health, especially on the back end.
plus if injuries are the reason he slows down the final few years, you just stash him on IR…loophole initiated!
I just drafted Couturier 4th overall in 2011 with Nashville’s pick on FHM 7. Maybe he will help Ovechkin bring a second championship to my Atlanta Thrashers lol.
Computer games aside I’ve been a big Couturier fan since I first saw him at the 2011 world juniors. Good for him for getting PAID.
Hockey is just weird. 8 year contracts in such a high injury sport. I’m sure it makes sense based on the current CBA it just seems weird.
Yea he’s an elite 1C because his game just isn’t offense. He doesn’t put up the 100pts but he gets his and he plays against the best offensive player on the opposing team 9 times out of 10. Hard to put up pts when your goal is shutdown most of the time. Will he ever be as good as Kopi or Bergeron probably not but he is also isn’t going to be make 10mil a year. For 7.75 its a good deal now and when the cap rises the cap # won’t look so bad in 5 years. His game isn’t based on athleticism either so his drop off i don’t believe will be as significant as he was never a great skater or power guy.
little long but at least it keeps him in Philly.
That’s the NHL. I’m a Kings fan Quick-Kopitar-Doughty broke the curse of no cups in team history so they were given the max length contracts allowed as almost every team does when in this situation.
Well 1 contract aged horribly 1 is okay with the player being effective but well overpaid and 1 being good with the player still providing production at a good rate.
The first team that figures out how to stay out of eight year max deals (maybe by trading players away early?) might be able to pull a Tampa Bay Rays concept where they compete every year without overmarket vet contracts.
Not that I have any more credibility than any internet expert but this contract is a steal. He is definitely a first line center. His first 4 years or so he was pretty much just slotted at a defensive center and I believe he has an above average amount of shifts that began in the defensive zone. He will outperform his contract. Maybe production will drop off the last couple of years but it should prove to be a win for the Flyers.
He’s elite right now. So even if the last 2 years end up being an overpay you have a window to really compete. You need that elite guy to build around so you have to lock him in. Even if 6 years later it gets complex.
In other words Cups are rare going for it when you have a chance is noble.
Wow. Full NMC until the last season then its a modified NTC, and it’s almost all paid in bonuses so it’s buyout proof. This deal just went from ok to bad.
First half of this deal – spot on. The second half, risky, but could still be good. I’d say the last two years are the biggest risk, but by that time his salary may not be as impactful Vs. the cap.