Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.
The topic: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?
There are three ways to look at this …
1. The Flyers re-sign Wayne Simmonds, who's eligible for an extension that would take effect in 2019-20.
2. Ron Hextall inks one of his restricted free agents to a team-friendly, lengthy multi-year deal.
3. The Flyers go big in free agency next summer.
Let’s start with the latter. There are some interesting names that are headlining next summer’s potential UFA class: Tyler Seguin, Tyler Myers, Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin.
Who knows which of these players will be re-signed or traded, but I don’t see the Flyers paying big dollars to add another forward now that you include James van Riemsdyk. According to Spotrac.com, the Flyers have $46.5 million (fourth highest in the NHL) committed to forwards, with Travis Konecny due for a pay raise next summer, as well.
With that knowledge, I’m not sure it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Simmonds another four to five years with an AAV of $6-7 million. Hextall has a good barometer of what Simmonds is worth on the open market, which is why term would be the sticking point in negotiations. If he’s willing to look at a three-year deal, it could get done soon, but if I’m Simmonds' agent, I’m trying to maximize the length of any new contract, which very well could be the last one his client signs.
I think the next big contract will be signed by defenseman Ivan Provorov, who’s entering the final year of his entry-level deal. It’s not out of the financial realm to think Provorov could sign a Drew Doughty-type bridge deal similar to the eight-year, $56 million pact the Kings' defenseman signed in 2011 at the age of 21. Doughty was coming off a monstrous 16-goal, 59-point season. Last season, Provorov ripped off 17 goals and 41 points and appears poised to build on that for this upcoming season.
Prepare yourself. Provorov will receive the next big pay day in Philadelphia.
Outside of teaching the Sixers and Phillies how to close a deal, Hextall's only item left on his offseason to-do list is to re-sign restricted free agent Robert Hagg.
During his end-of-season-news conference in April, Hextall said "initially, my thought right now is that we would be open to either long term or short term" with Hagg.
Whether Hagg qualifies as a "big signing" isn't really up for debate. It's not. Hagg is a quality third pair defenseman in the NHL and he proved as much in his rookie season.
But re-signing Hagg is the only move left I envision Hextall making this summer, or at the very least, the next move. A Provorov or Simmonds extension remains possible too.
As Hextall mentioned, the Flyers are open to either a short or long-term deal with Hagg. Both have their upside. That is also likely the holdup right now.
While Hagg wouldn't qualify as a "big" signing, he is next on the checklist. Once his contract is out of the way, then I could see the Flyers knocking out Provorov or Simmonds.
Hextall tends to get ahead and take care of his own.
When you look at the track record, he's not one to let contract decisions linger, especially when it comes to his core pieces — which makes for good business.
Just like in any profession, stability and happiness are important.
The Flyers' general manager extended Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier the summer prior to their contract years.
He signed Shayne Gostisbehere, a restricted free agent last summer, in early June before the expansion draft and free agency opened.
He even signed Michael Raffl in February 2016 before the role forward was set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
With all that said, my gut tells me Hextall's next big move is extending Simmonds at some point before the start of the season. Simmonds, coming off an injury-ravaged year in which he still managed to score 24 goals, can hit unrestricted free agency following the 2018-19 season. He wants to be back and Hextall values him greatly.
And the GM made it clear that when the Flyers signed van Riemsdyk to a five-year deal, it meant nothing to their situation with Simmonds.
"We like Wayne Simmonds," Hextall said July 1. "This doesn't change anything for Wayne. This is a left winger; this is a different player than Simmer. We're excited to have James, and certainly, we would like to have Simmer for a long time, too."
I expect that to be the next major check on the agenda.