Flyers

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension.

Dougherty
Well, this isn't six years, $30 million. Or nine years, $51 million. Or 14 years, $110 million.

The Flyers on Friday re-signed Gostisbehere to a six-year, $27 million contract with a $4.5 million AAV before the 24-year-old hit restricted free agency.

First thoughts on the deal? Yeah, it's a really team-friendly contract.

The defenseman endured some ups and downs in his second year in the NHL this past season and dealt with a few benchings by head coach Dave Hakstol. His offensive output decreased from his eye-popping rookie campaign and he had some defensive hiccups.

There were some growing pains with Gostisbehere in Year 2, but realistically, we should have expected that. Broad Street Hockey's Charlie O'Connor did an excellent job breaking down Gostisbehere's sophomore season through the lens of advanced stats, but let's take a look at the Year 1 and 2 barebone numbers:

Year 1: 17 goals, 29 assists, 46 points, 22 power-play points.

Year 2: 7 goals, 32 assists, 39 points, 23 power-play points. 

We can compare Gostisbehere's contract to similar extensions — Stars defenseman John Klingberg is a good example — but for me, the Flyers are paying Gostisbehere as a second-pair defenseman, which I believe is a realistic endgame for "Ghost."

The cap hit is manageable and the term takes Gostisbehere to 30 years old. It's a clear message that general manager Ron Hextall views him as a core piece going forward, but it's also a sign that Hextall doesn't overvalue Gostisbehere based on his rookie season.

It's a safe bet on a young defenseman who's working hard to improve his defensive deficiencies and has already proven he can be a 40-plus point producer from the blue line.

At $4.5 million for six years, sign me up.

Hall
Job well done, Ron Hextall.

Like the GM said Friday, Gostisbehere fits the organization's vision moving forward. He is undoubtedly a major piece of the Flyers' future and the deal cements that.

The six years and $4.5 million a season are just fine for me. In fact, those figures could be bargains down the road when you look at other offensive defensemen.

Gostisbehere's mobility and playmaking at the point are game-changers in the NHL. His sophomore slump was more of an aberration and a product of a few things. Although he wouldn't make any excuses at the end of the season, I believe Gostisbehere's offseason hip/abdominal surgeries plagued him early and, as a result, his confidence suffered. That, along with being benched five times and the pressure to produce, forced him into overthinking.

"I know you guys want me to admit it's my surgeries, my injuries, but it's honestly not," Gostisbehere said in April on cleanout day. "You can tell who doesn't have confidence on the ice when they have the puck — you can tell. If it's a guy who's bringing it up and he's looking everywhere and he doesn't have confidence, then you can tell it's confidence. 

"I make plays on the blue line, there are plays that I have to do quick, I have to react and I have to have the confidence to do them. I can't do them if I'm thinking like, 'Oh, what if his stick goes there,' I can't. You just have to have a free mind and you have to go out there and play and let your abilities take over. That's what I was learning more and more as the season went on, realizing I had the skills, I just have to trust my abilities."

Once Gostisbehere was himself, his game showed. A play that really stuck out to me was in the season finale when he set up a Wayne Simmonds goal. You can watch it here. This was a confident, free-playing Gostisbehere the Flyers should see in the future — if they allow him to play to his strengths — now that he's locked up for six years.

Paone
The new deal between Gostisbehere and the Flyers is a win-win for all parties involved. 

"Ghost" not only gets a hefty raise from the $925,000 he was making, but he now has the ever-important long-term security every player wants.

The Flyers, meanwhile, lock up a 24-year-old blue-line cornerstone for the next six years at a very fair price. 

Since the start of the 2016 calendar year, Pittsburgh's Olli Maatta, Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen, Anaheim's Hampus Lindholm, Toronto's Morgan Reilly and Nikita Zaitsev, Detroit's Danny DeKeyser and Edmonton's Adam Larsson (then with New Jersey) have all signed similar deals as RFAs. And you can make a legitimate argument that Gostisbehere is more valuable to the Flyers than any of those players are to their respective teams. And that's no disrespect to any of those players.

Gostisbehere, with his mobility, puck-moving skills, shifty finesse and laser beam of a shot from the point, is such a key part of the Flyers' offensive engine. He's not a shutdown pair player, and that's perfectly fine. That's not what his skill set is and he shouldn't be forced to play that way. He's an offensive firecracker for a team that desperately needs scoring punch. And as Gostisbehere's recovery from offseason hip surgery lingered last season, the Flyers' offense sputtered more often than not. Sure, there were other factors involved with that, but Gostisbehere's struggles were a major reason.

Now, with a full summer of rest and training and a year of tough-to-swallow experience under his belt, there are very few reasons not to believe "Ghost" will find that familiar form from his Calder-nominee rookie season. Heck, he clearly found it toward the end of last season when he was the dynamic player we all recalled.

And if he stays healthy, he can be that familiar "Ghost" for the Flyers for the next six years.

3 reasons why Flyers shut down 'best player in the world' Connor McDavid

3 reasons why Flyers shut down 'best player in the world' Connor McDavid

BOX SCORE

A stat line of 0 goals, 0 assists and 0 points has never looked so good.

That's how Connor McDavid will remember his 22:03 of ice time Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

In another tight-checking defensive battle, it was Wayne Simmonds who scored the game-winner with 2:15 remaining in the third period to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Oilers (see observations).

"Pretty big emphasis," Simmonds said of McDavid. "He's probably the best player in the world right now, so you know, we just didn't want him getting the puck in full flight.

"We just wanted to keep him on the outside and kind of limit the touches he was getting."

Aside from the broken collarbone game during his rookie season, when he was forced to leave in the second period, this marked the first time the Flyers held the 20-year-old superstar without a single point.

Prior to Saturday, McDavid had registered six points against the Flyers with at least one point in three straight games.

So, how did the orange and black bottle up the Art Ross Trophy winner — the only NHL player to top 100 points last season?

1. Deploy a multitude of forward lines and defensive pairings
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol started the game matching McDavid's line with Scott Laughton's line. In the final two periods, the task of slowing down McDavid — for the most part — was left to Sean Couturier and the Flyers' top line.

McDavid had five extended shifts of 1:30 or longer, requiring the Flyers to use a combination of lines and bodies against McDavid. Last year, McDavid may have capitalized against a slower Flyers team but this season, there is more balance across the four lines.

"It's real important," Hakstol said. "And it's not just the extended shifts. He's got an ability to finish a long shift, take one off and come right back, and that can be challenging."

2. Ensure Ivan Provorov was on the ice
After the Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg pairing handled some of the first-period shifts against McDavid, it was Provorov who primarily handled those duties in the final 40 minutes. Paired mostly with Andrew MacDonald, Provorov also saw ice time with Hagg, Radko Gudas and even Gostisbehere in the third period.

Fronted by Provorov, McDavid failed to register a single shot on Brian Elliott in the third period. Not surprisingly, Provorov played a season-high 25:54.

"His skating ability and his positioning on the ice is so good he's able to slow guys down to kind of put him on his back, just kind of angle them into parts of the ice they don't want to go into," MacDonald said. "It makes it a lot easier when you're playing with a guy who's capable of doing that so well and covering so much ground. It's great to see and he just keeps getting better."

3. Flyers took away his world-class speed
McDavid may be the fastest player in the world with the puck on his stick in the open ice. In fact, McDavid's glide has more speed to it than most players' stride. If you didn't know that prior to the Flyers-Oilers game, you certainly didn't walk away with the belief that McDavid possesses the acceleration of an Italian-engineered sports car. There wasn't one time Saturday you could recall McDavid flying into the offensive zone with the puck on his stick.

"You can't let him get speed because if he does, he's gone," Laughton said. "I think that's the biggest thing. Take away his speed early, so he can't get that puck and take it away down low too. I thought we did a good job."

For Hakstol and Co., bottle up this game plan for the future. It will come in handy when the Flyers take on the Oilers on Dec. 6 in Edmonton.

The Guy
Guy Lanzi has been the Flyers' oral surgeon since 1993. In that time, Lanzi has pulled, repaired or replaced hundreds of chiclets and Friday afternoon was no different.

Simmonds sat in Lanzi's dentist chair for nearly four hours to have some extensive dental work after taking a puck to the mouth while sitting on the bench Thursday against the Predators.

"No surgery — just a lot of work," Simmonds said Saturday. "I was in the doctor's office for a while there. Couple of root canals, couple of pulled teeth replaced, couple teeth bridged. Work is not done yet. I got to go back soon."

Because of that, Simmonds was forced to wear the protective face guard to ensure a puck or stick doesn't do any more damage.

“I can't be getting hit in the mouth again or the rest of my teeth are going to fall out,” Simmonds said.

The reward for Simmonds' mouth-numbing procedure was his fist-pumping, crowd-roaring game-winner and his team-leading sixth goal and fourth game-winner of the season.

“I don’t know how many people would want to go through that and then come back and play a hockey game," Hakstol said, "but he did it, and he scored the game-winner.”

“I think just getting two points satisfies me," Simmonds said. "I’m in a lot better spirits today.”

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Wayne Simmonds plays hero in win

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Wayne Simmonds plays hero in win

BOX SCORE

For the second straight game, the Flyers were forced to get defensive, and this time, they found a way to come out on top Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Wayne Simmonds produced the game-winner after taking a pass from Valtteri Filppula and snapping it past Cam Talbot with 2:15 remaining in the third period.

It was a tight-checking game that played out similar to what we saw Thursday against the Predators, as the Flyers held the Oilers to 24 shots on net. Connor McDavid registered four shots on net but wasn’t much of a factor offensively.

• The Flyers jumped on the board first with the help of their first power play when Shayne Gostisbehere’s blast from the point was deflected out front by Wayne Simmonds right to Claude Giroux, who corralled the loose puck and punched it into a wide-open net for his fifth goal of the season. 

Following an 0 for 5 effort against Nashville, the Flyers needed to capitalize on the man advantage chances.  

“We just have a lot of different looks this year,” Gostisbehere said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Chris Therien during the first intermission. “We have so many plays out there. It’s harder for other teams to prepare for us. We’re getting pucks to the net and our guys are doing what they're supposed to do.”

• Former Phantom Patrick Maroon finally got the Oilers on the board with 4:23 remaining in the second period when he outmuscled rookie Nolan Patrick along the corner boards, coming away with the puck and making a move past Ivan Provorov, before putting a shot between Brian Elliott’s pads. 

Patrick appeared to have been distracted by a broken stick along the boards that made him hesitate with the puck. The Flyers' rookie center could have elevated the puck with his backhand, but by holding onto to it for a split second too long, he allowed Maroon to come up with the takeaway.

• The Flyers got careless defensively in the opening 10 minutes of the second period as defensive breakdowns led to some quality scoring chances for the Oilers.

• The Flyers did a solid job of containing last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner McDavid, primarily deploying Scott Laughton’s line along with the Sean Couturier line sometimes during the same shift. McDavid had some extended shifts — three even-strength shifts over 1:30 — requiring the Flyers to use a multitude of forwards and defense pairs.

• McDavid left the game briefly in the first period and returned midway through.

• Jori Lehtera produced his best scoring chance of the season when he took Radko Gudas’ outlet pass and attempted to squeeze through a pair of defenders. The plodding Lehtera was unable to gain enough speed for an uncontested shot, but with his strong forearms and hands, he was able to draw a slashing penalty and still put a shot on net. 

• Last season, Giroux didn’t score his fifth goal until Nov. 29th. 

• Both Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal missed Saturday’s game with upper-body injuries. According to general manager Ron Hextall, both forwards are day-to-day. 

• Referee Ian Walsh was honored prior to the game for officiating his 1,000th career game. Flyers captain Claude Giroux presented Walsh with a framed autographed jersey signed by the team with the No. 1,000 on the back.

Lines, pairings and scratches
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jori Lehtera-Valterri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Matt Read-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hägg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier and Brandon Manning