The Philadelphia Flyers announced a four year contract extension on Monday for forward Brayden Schenn. Although the team did not disclose the financial terms of the contract, NHL insiders have pegged the deal to be worth $20.5 Million total, carrying a cap hit of $5.125 per year.
Schenn, originally the 5th overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning the Flyers held his negotiation rights. If a RFA cannot reach a deal with the team that holds his rights, he can take the team to an independent arbitrator. During this process the player and the team will present what they perceive as fair value for the next contract, and the arbitrator then decides on a salary which is usually somewhere in between those two numbers.
Schenn’s new deal comes after requesting $5.5 Million from the arbitrator. The team reportedly offered a salary of $4.25 Million and $4.37 Million for the first and second years of a new contract, respectively. Rather than allow an arbitration ruling (which would have limited the length of the contract to two years), the Flyers inked Schenn to a four year extension before the 9 A.M. arbitration deadline on Monday morning. In this contract, the team is able to lock up one of their highest scoring forwards for the next four years and Schenn gets a dollar amount closer to what he was asking for in arbitration.
“I’m just extremely happy to be signed on for another four years, and I don’t think anyone wants to go through the arbitration process” Schenn told reporters over the phone on Monday.
Schenn’s game has grown each season with the Flyers since coming to town in a trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles. His point totals, ice time, and place in the lineup have improved each year in Philadelphia. Last year, Schenn set a career high in points, goals, and assists.
Stats from Hockey-Reference.com
Ever since Schenn broke into the lineup in 2011, the area that he has struggled the most with is consistency. No one doubts his skillset; he gets first line powerplay time, and the Flyers have been patient transitioning him from center to the wing. But flashes of his ability would merely come and go for his first four seasons. However this past year was clearly a turning point for Schenn in that regard. After January 1st, he recorded 44 points in the team’s final 44 games, good enough to lead the team in scoring during that stretch. He even notched his first career hat trick in Feburary against the Calgary Flames. 60 points is generally considered to be a top-line player in today’s NHL, and Schenn was right there by season’s end. The onus that he now faces is to replicate that success each year.
“I have to be counted on each night. I feel like I’m part of the core group, and to be signed on for another four years obviously shows they’re confident in me as a player” Schenn said on Monday.
Schenn seems ready for heightened expectations, although the start of his season will be slightly delayed. Schenn will be suspended for the first three regular season games this year after hitting T.J. Oshie in Game 6 of the Flyers’ first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals.
Looking forward, the Flyers now have 48 players signed, two contracts shy of the 50-man roster limit. According to GeneralFanager.com, the team will enter the 2016-17 season with an estimated $1.3 Million in cap space. That number could change since restricted free agent Brandon Manning has yet to be re-signed, although the team already has seven defensemen on the roster not including the possible addition of Ivan Provorov.