If star center Sean Couturier had tested the free-agent market next summer, it’s very likely he would have received more money than he did when he re-upped with the Flyers on an eight-year, $62 million deal Thursday.
But Couturier, 28, whose extension starts after next season, kept his cap hit manageable ($7.75 million annually) for a player of his magnitude. That will enable the Flyers to spend in other areas down the road and, theoretically, give them a better chance to succeed.
“You want to earn what you’re worth, but at the same time, I want to win a Stanley Cup, a championship,” Couturier said in a Zoom call with reporters Friday. “I didn’t want to break the bank or get all the money. I just wanted to secure myself for the next eight, nine years. I just wanted to make it a fair deal for both of us, and this is what we came down to.”
Couturier called it “another way to try to help the team, and I’m really excited to be a part of this group for the upcoming years.”
The Flyers made numerous offseason moves, adding defensemen Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle; forwards Cam Atkinson, Derick Brassard, and Nate Thompson; and goaltender Martin Jones.
Among those who are gone: Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Phil Myers, Nolan Patrick, Robert Hagg, and Brian Elliott.
“It reminds me a little bit of my first year when I came into the league,” Couturier said. “There were a lot of changes with the Flyers. Some big names. Big stars that were liked in Philly. [Jeff] Carter and [Mike] Richards got traded. And we brought in a bunch of guys.”
He mentioned himself, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn.
“There was a lot of excitement back then, and it kind of feels the same way right now,” he said. “We lost some big names, some good players, but a lot of good players are coming here. There’s a lot of excitement, and it’s going to be important for us to get the chemistry going early on and take off as soon as we can.”
The new players, added after a dismal season in which the Flyers went 25-23-8 and missed the playoffs, have been incorporated onto the team’s text chain, Couturier said.
“Everyone seems to be good people and seems to be gelling. Everyone seems to be excited and on the same page and willing to help this team take a step forward,” Couturier said.
Couturier, who mentioned he’s happy he doesn’t have to face the physical Ristolainen anymore, said the new-look defense will benefit from all the experience it added.
He said it generally takes defensemen longer before they grow into their potential.
“We brought in guys who have been around for a while and have had an impact in this league,” Couturier said.
Couturier, named the team’s MVP in each of the last three seasons, called it “huge” when the forwards and defensemen trust each other.
“With all the experience we have now, the puck should be moving, and we really should be in sync,” he said. “I think it’s really going to be exciting. I’m excited about the team we have now and in the future.”
The Flyers announced that development camp, which has on-ice sessions that start Sunday, will not be open to the public because of COVID-19 concerns.