Ron Hextall has kicked off NHL free agency by bringing one of the Flyers' own back into the fold.
The Flyers on Saturday signed forward Mike Vecchione to a new two-year contract. The deal carries an annual salary cap hit of $900,000, per SportsNet Canada's Elliotte Friedman.
Vecchione, 24, was a restricted free agent after signing with the Flyers following a star-studded career at Union College, the alma mater of fellow Flyer Shayne Gostisbehere. A highly-coveted college free agent who had numerous suitors, Vecchione inked with the Flyers on March 31 and played in two of the final three games of the season with his NHL debut coming in the Flyers' 1-0 OT loss in New Jersey on April 4.
"Our exit meeting went pretty well," Vecchione said. "They expect a lot out of me. Just coming into the summer, I'm just trying to improve my game all around. I'm pretty happy I got my feet wet, know what to expect. It helps me train. …
"For them to give me a contract, they obviously want me to go out there and produce and play for the big team. I don't want to let them down. I take a lot of pride in that."
In his four years at Union, Vecchione scored 71 goals and added 105 assists for 176 points. His senior campaign was his best as he scored 29 goals and added 34 assists for 63 points en route to being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, aka the "Hockey Heisman."
Vecchione also played in the Flyers' season-closing 5-4 shootout loss to the Hurricanes on April 9. In his two appearances in a Flyers sweater, he won 8 of 12 faceoffs taken and averaged 8:30 of ice time in a fourth-line role.
Come the fall, he is expected to be part of a training camp competition for one of the Flyers' bottom-six forward spots.
"My expectations are to make the big team and have a long career in the NHL," Vecchione said. "Nothing's been handed to me. My parents have done a pretty good job instilling a lot of work ethic in me. That's just who I am, I'm going to work hard and try to earn a spot."
As for the Flyers' other RFAs, Cole Bardreau, Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier, Alex Lyon, Roman Lyubimov and Anthony Stolarz remain unsigned.
The Flyers made another minor move on Saturday morning by signing forward Corban Knight to a two-year deal.
Knight, 26, is a four-year veteran who spent all of last season in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms. He posted 11 goals and 29 assists last year.
A fifth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2009, Knight provides veteran depth in the organization as he has 29 games of NHL experience with both the Panthers and Calgary Flames.
The team also signed 26-year-old centerman Phil Varone to a two-year deal.
Varone spent the majority of last season with the Binghamton Senators, the AHL affiliate for the Ottawa Senators. He recorded 51 points in 65 games. He didn't record a goal or assist in seven games with Ottawa.
"I feel like it's going to be a good opportunity for me," Varone said. "I still have that fire to compete for an NHL job and I feel like I can make a difference. I feel like in Philly, I feel like I would be able to complement what they're trying to do.
"Just a smart two-way forward who competes every day. I try to do it all. I try to be good in the faceoff circle, put up points, kill penalties, be a good leader. I try to bring it all to the table. You can expect an effort level and care level 100 percent every night."