While the Flyers were busy making moves to trade players like Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn around the deadline, they also made another under-the-radar move to sign F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two year contract extension worth $1.425M for a yearly cap hit of $712,500.
Bellemare, who turns 30 on Friday, has 4 goals and 8 points in 62 games this season. While his scoring numbers are not exactly through the roof, I think that has a lot to do with his linemates and usage. I’ve been a very big fan of Bellemare’s this season, as his value on the PK and ability to chip in solid 2-way play on the 4th line have been a welcome change from previous bottom-line mainstays like Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill. Bellemare’s versatility has also been on display this year: while he’s spent most of his time centering the 4th line between Chris Vandevelde and Vinny Lecavalier/Zac Rinaldo, he’s also spent time on the wing and centered the 2nd line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds with some success earlier in the year.
Here are Bellemare’s WOWY stats with each of his three common 4th-line partners this year:
||Bellemare CF% Apart
||Player CF% Apart
Bellemare has outperformed each of Vandevelde, Lecavalier, and Rinaldo in terms of possession when they’ve been separated from each other, and he’s even managed to help Vinny break even (!!!!) in terms of possession when they’re on the ice together. His total CF% of 46.8% and CF% Rel of -0.9 rank 9th (behind Raffl, Voracek, Giroux, White, Simmonds, Schenn, Couturier, and Read) and 8th (behind Raffl, Voracek, Giroux, White, Simmonds, Couturier, and Schenn) on the team, respectively, which tells me he may be a little overqualified for the bottom line but is overall probably being utilized correctly. However, having players like Bellemare who can drive possession to a certain extent and can add value in other areas of the game (for Bellemare, his PK skills) are a massive competitive advantage on the fourth line, especially when matched up with the John Scott’s and Shawn Thornton’s of the world. Having a guy like that locked up for two years at that cheap of a cap hit is easily a net win for the Flyers. Locking him up for the next couple years gives the Flyers Giroux-Couturier-Schenn/Laughton-Bellemare down the middle, great depth at one of the most important positions in the game.
Would it be nice to see what he could do with players like Schenn and Simmonds after seeing their successful stint together earlier in the year? Sure, but as young, bottom-6 prospects like Taylor Leier, Nick Cousins, and (hopefully still) Jason Akeson in addition to relatively established veterans like Vandevelde and White start cycle through the bottom of the Flyers’ forward lineup, it’ll be nice to have a smart, cheap, versatile veteran presence like Bellemare playing with them and helping them drive possession forwards with more success than most of the competition they’ll be going up against.