Flyers

Flyers sign Shayne Gostisbehere to 6-year deal

Flyers sign Shayne Gostisbehere to 6-year deal

The Flyers avoided a potentially messy situation with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere by re-signing him Friday to a multi-year contract.

It's a six-year, $27 million deal for an AAV of $4.5 million a season, according to a source.

"It's a dream come true to be part of one of the best organizations in hockey," Gostisbehere said of his new contract.

"With everything that's going on here — we've got some young guys coming up and we've already got some key pieces — it's nice to know you're part of the future and part of the plans.

"There are many more steps to come and hopefully it leads to some great things. It's a tremendous honor to realize you're part of the future."

His $4.5 million cap hit is second only to Andrew MacDonald ($5 million) on the Flyers' blue line.

Although Gostisbehere would have been on the Flyers' protected list, because he was a restricted free agent, he could have been signed to the Vegas Golden Knights 48 hours prior to the expansion draft, but the Flyers would have had a chance to match.

"It's important to us to get some cost certainty," general manager Ron Hextall said. "Shayne has a very bright future and certainly fits in with our vision moving forward and we're real excited to have him under contract long term here."

The 24-year-old defenseman was a Calder Trophy finalist two years ago with 17 goals and 46 points.

He had a very disappointing season last year — seven goals, 39 points and minus-21 — but in his defense, just like Claude Giroux, he did not recover quickly enough from offseason hip and abdominal surgery. He lacked speed and recovery ability right into the second half of the 2016-17 season before he started to resemble his former self on the ice.

Coach Dave Hakstol benched him five games. Hextall said he did not feel this had a negative impact on Gostisbehere mentally or caused a lack of confidence in his play.

"Shayne and I'll throw Travis (Konecny) in there as well, there are lessons to be learned when you are a young player," Hextall said. "Sometimes, at the time, you don't understand them.

"But I assure you this year, next year, the year after, Shayne will look back on those experiences and [say], 'I learned a lot from that.'

"That whole nurturing and this and that, sometimes there is a little tough love and Shayne got a little tough love last year and I'm sure if you asked him, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Every player gets disappointed at some point in their career. You need to learn to deal with it. He'll be a better player and person as a result."

Expectations soared last season after the Union College grad won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers' top defenseman in 2015-16. Gostisbehere set a Flyers and NHL record for rookie defensemen with a 15-game scoring streak and made the league's all-rookie team. His point total led all rookie blueliners while his 17 goals established a new Flyers benchmark for rookie defensemen.

Despite this past season's poor showing, Gostisbehere refused to use his injuries as an excuse and vowed he would come back as a better player this fall.

He said he accepted his benchings and had moved on. Hextall said Friday he was not concerned with how Hakstol handled the delicate situation.

"He does have a good rapport with young players," Hextall said of Hakstol. "The most important thing here is to have the respect from your players.

"Sometimes you're doing things that you think are best for the team short term and long term. And what's best for the team is making every individual player better.

"We're not going to nurture young players here. Our young players have to earn it. Players who deserve to be in the lineup 82 games, are going to be in the lineup."

The Flyers expect two roster openings on defense this fall with the departures of Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz, both of whom won't be re-signed.

Sam Morin and Robert Hagg could grab those spots. Gostisbehere has played with Morin, a stay-at-home defenseman, in previous training camps. Morin's NHL debut last April in New Jersey saw him paired with Gostisbehere.

"I have no idea," Hextall said of a possible permanent pairing. "Those are things you have to see. Ghost is one of those players that can play with different guys. We've got a few guys in the organization that you view.

"You want a stay-at-home defenseman with Ghost because he's going to be up ice. We've got three or four of those guys, as well as the young kids coming. There's a multitude of players that Ghost could play with."

As for timing of the contract, Hextall said he only would have gotten concerned had negotiations dragged deep into the summer.

Weal update
Hextall did not sound optimistic about progress in re-signing winger Jordan Weal, who is unrestricted.

"I have no idea," he said of negotiations, adding there has not been any talks with Weal's camp since last week's NHL Scouting Combine. "I don't have a prediction or anything else."

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

flyers-light-show.jpg
Philadelphia Flyers

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

Before the Flyers get in the spirit for a sixth straight win on Saturday night, they’ll get you in the holiday spirit, too.

Prior to puck drop against the Stars on NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Flyers will put on a unique holiday-themed light show, which will illuminate the Wells Fargo Center and its ice.

The “Holiday Light Spectacular,” which is presented by the Rothman Institute at Jefferson, will be a 10-minute show starting at 7 p.m., as all fans will be given light-up bracelets to complement a fun Flyers holiday video featured on the ice.

“This show is a new, can’t-miss holiday attraction in Philadelphia and one that we hope becomes an annual tradition for us,” Shawn Tilger, the Flyers’ executive vice president, chief operating officer, alternate governor, said in a release by the team. “This show is in line with the holiday staples of the region, and we’re excited to bring entertainment of this caliber to Flyers fans here on Saturday night.”

For fans with youngsters, Santa Claus will also be in attendance, taking free photos on the main concourse.

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5

BOX SCORE

It was a Flyers’ win with a capital “U.” 

That’s “U” as in ugly.

However, it was still good enough to beat the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres, as the Flyers skated away with a 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night (see observations).

It’s the type of game the Flyers lost earlier in the season during their previous homestead when they came out sloppy against the lowly Arizona Coyotes in an eventual 4-3 loss in overtime.  

“I thought this was a boring game,” Jakub Voracek said. “Honestly, I don’t think we played good today, but we got the win, which is really important. You’re not going to play great every night. We played well when we needed to, but we can play a lot better, which is positive.”

Nothing was uglier than the game’s first goal when Brian Elliott attempted to play the puck behind his net. Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons intercepted Elliott’s pass and fed the puck to Ryan O’Reilly, who had a wide-open, unattended net in front of him.

“They came hard and a little miscommunication,” Elliott said. “Bad play on my part and we did a heck of a job of coming back and tying that up. That can go sideways in a hurry. We sorted it out, but our first period was kind of sloppy.”

After Elliott nearly made the same mistake again in the opening period, the Flyers rebounded to the tie game at 1-1 as Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal off a feed from Dale Weise (see highlights). However, even Sanheim admitted, the goal was a silver lining from a dark cloud that was looming over him defensively with failed clears and breakdowns in coverage.  

“I don’t think we were very happy with our first period, especially me,” Sanheim said. “Minus the goal, I thought that might have been my worst period of the season, but I think we bounced back and battled hard in the final 40 and came through with the win.”

“He’s been pressing for a little while, so I was so happy to see him get a smile on his face,” Weise said of Sanheim’s goal. “That’s going to do wonders for his game. You see a shift after he gets another chance there. I’m so happy for him.”

Sanheim’s season in some ways has mirrored that of the Flyers’ schedule — a yo-yo performance with bouts of inconsistency. Coming off a 10-game winless stretch, the Flyers have now won five straight. Throughout both streaks, head coach Dave Hakstol has stuck with Sanheim when some coaches may have wavered. 

“There’s always lessons along the way, especially for a young defenseman,” Hakstol said. “He’s had some bumps in the road that every defenseman is going to go through. Tonight’s maybe a little indicative of that. Travis is always honest with himself and the evaluation of his own play, and for me, that always helps keep his feet on the ground and move on to the next challenge.”

“I want to make hard plays and I’ve got to make sure the puck gets over our blue line,” Sanheim said. “It’s easier to sit back and say I could have done this, I could have done that. Going forward, I’ve just got to try and limit those mistakes and try and play a harder game.” 

The Flyers eventually produced the breakthrough goal late in the second period on a tic-tac-toe play started by Michael Raffl, who fed a pass to Voracek and then onto Valtteri Filppula for the one-time goal.

“Those are the best wins,” said Raffl, who played in his 300th career game. “You’re pretty happy when you win 4-1 and you play your best game. It’s easy to laugh, but that was a war out there and the last period, especially, but we came together as a group.”

Of the 14 one-goal games the Flyers have played this season, this was just the third time they earned a victory. Many of those games when they failed to earn a winning decision came after regulation.

“It’s all about confidence,” Voracek said. “Two or three weeks ago when we went into the third period, we would lose that game. Now it’s about making sure those loose pucks get out of the zone and don’t make any dumb decisions.”

“I think it’s huge. When we were in that streak, we blew a lot of leads late in games,” Weise said. “Minus the last two minutes where I think we sat back a little, I thought we did a good job of moving the puck forward, forechecking and not sitting back too much. It’s more of a mental thing to win those type of games.”