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."

Flyers weekly observations: Wayne Simmonds' trade deadline audition, Cam Talbot deal, more

Flyers weekly observations: Wayne Simmonds' trade deadline audition, Cam Talbot deal, more

The Flyers are 12-1-1 with 25 points and a plus-18 goal differential since Jan. 14.

They have passed 13 teams after residing in the NHL basement on the morning of Jan. 13 with 38 points.

Twenty-three games remain in their playoff pursuit, which had the Flyers six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot entering Monday.

With all that said, let's get into our weekly observations:

• It looks like Wayne Simmonds has himself audition time Tuesday night.

TSN's Darren Dreger reported in late January that the NHL-leading Lightning had inquired about Simmonds.

What do you know, here comes Tampa Bay visiting the Wells Fargo Center less than a week before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. The Lightning will get a firsthand look at the 30-year-old power forward who is Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher's biggest decision ahead of next Monday.

A game won't completely sway Tampa Bay one way or the other. However, say Simmonds scores a goal, puts his toughness and net-front prowess on display, it wouldn't hurt the Lightning's interest (and potential offer) to solidify a Stanley Cup run.

Former Lightning and Flyers player Vinny Lecavalier had this to say about Simmonds to The Athletic's Joe Smith:

He protected me in two line brawls. He's just a great teammate. He's not afraid of anybody.

Not a bad quality to have when you'll be the No. 1 target in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

• The Cam Talbot trade made perfect sense for the Flyers.

If Carter Hart is the Flyers' No. 1 of the future, then Anthony Stolarz is at best their backup. The 25-year-old has overcome a lot but his track record of knee injuries was a concern and there would have been challenges in retaining him (see story).

"Obviously there's a decent probability he'll be an unrestricted free agent, or at least would have been if he stayed with us," Fletcher said last Saturday.

So the Flyers capitalized on Stolarz's positive stock by acquiring a 31-year-old goalie with experience as a No. 1 and No. 2, who can help now and possibly down the road. With Talbot compared to Stolarz, they actually have more flexibility (see story).

"Every summer there are goaltenders available," Fletcher said. "I think this is an opportunity for us to evaluate Cam down the stretch and see if there's a fit. As importantly, hopefully give us a boost as we continue to push for a playoff spot."

• The relationship between Talbot and Hart has been well-documented.

Talbot, who has become a mentor for Hart, offered a noteworthy quote last Saturday on the 20-year-old sensation:

It started a couple summers ago, we skated once or twice together. Then this past summer, every time we were on the ice, we were on the ice together. I've been watching Carter do his thing since he has been called up. 

He gave me a call before his first NHL game, just asked a few questions, wanted to pick my brain about a few things. I think that's what makes him as good as he has been — he's willing and eager to learn, he's a hard-worker and he wants to get better, he wants that help and guidance from people, he's not afraid to ask for it. 

I think that's what's making him so successful right now.

• A Sean Couturier appreciation observation:

Since Jan. 8, the 26-year-old center is tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) over 17 games. 

Only Patrick Kane (31), Vladimir Tarasenko (27) and Brad Marchand (26) have scored more.

Couturier is projected to finish with a new career-high 34 goals. He'll be up for the Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) yet again.

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Is the Carolina Hurricanes' postgame celebration over the top, or are they just having fun?

usa_canes_celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Is the Carolina Hurricanes' postgame celebration over the top, or are they just having fun?

The Carolina Hurricanes are determined that all that attention the state of North Carolina receives this time of year will no longer be reserved for Blue Devils or Tar Heels basketball.

This season, the Canes have turned their postgame ritual into something that resembles the intersection of an NFL end zone celebration and an elementary school playground.  

After every win on home ice (16 so far this season), the Hurricanes have given their devoted fans, the “Caniacs," reason to stick around for the third period and beyond with some sort of choreographed postgame skit.  

Here’s just a few of their greatest hits from this season:

The limbo …

The knock-it-out-of-the-park home run trot …

Duck, duck, goose ...

These pre-meditated antics have driven hockey purists and traditionalists to the point of coming down with HDS, or Hurricane Derangement Syndrome. Those who have been around the game for years are completely beside themselves and feel this is merely a travesty to their beloved sport. 

That feeling couldn’t have been articulated more strongly than by Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry, who went on a minute-long rant Saturday calling the players “jerks” for their behavior. Check it out here:

Off-air, Cherry may be one of the nicest, most pleasant guys you will meet. But even the brash, outspoken 85-year-old hockey icon can see the utter hypocrisy to which he describes. I suppose only Cherry is permitted to be flamboyant or even obnoxious while calling attention to himself for his outrageous appearance. Shame to anyone else who steps outside those boundaries.     

The Hurricanes wasted little time to profit off an opportunity that fell right into their laps this weekend, and I’m guessing there will be a backorder for this shirt in the next 24-48 hours.    

My feeling is that as long as it’s in good taste, anything that grabs the attention of the sports world even for a couple of minutes is good for the game. 

There aren't very many hockey markets where you can pull this off. Toronto, Montreal? No way. New York, Boston? Are you kidding? 

But what does Raleigh, North Carolina, have to lose? The franchise has missed the postseason for nine straight seasons and their attendance has been at the bottom for the past five years. The Hurricanes have given fans a reason not to come since winning a Stanley Cup in 2006. 

For a league that is a distant fourth when it comes to the Big 4, the publicity that comes from these celebrations can only draw in fans that may not have been attracted to the sport previously. 

Now, the team is knocking on the door of their first playoff berth since 2008-09. I commend head coach Rod Brind’Amour and captain Justin Williams for bringing a little bit of fun to the team while knowing they would receive plenty of heat outside their dressing room.

Sometimes you have to think a little differently when you’re fighting for revenue shares in a very competitive sports world.

Like unveiling a big, orange, oversized googly-eyed mascot that everyone seemed to hate when it first rolled out.

Take that to your jerk store. 

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