Breaking down the Sean Couturier contract extension

Flyers' Sean Couturier
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 11: Philadelphia Flyers Center Sean Couturier (14) reacts to referees after the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers on January 11, 2020 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Sean Couturier and the Philadelphia Flyers agree to terms on an 8yr/$7.75mil AAV extension beginning in 2022-2023. Chuck Fletcher does it again!

The deal had to be sealed sooner rather than later.

The extension goes into effect after the 2021-2022 season, which Couturier would have become an unrestricted free agent. His addition to his current contract makes him a Flyer for the rest of this decade. In other words, you’re looking at the next captain in Philadelphia after Claude Giroux decides to call it a career.

At an annual value of $7.75mil, the Flyers didn’t overpay Couturier. He’s receiving nearly a $3.5mil raise from his previous rate. Chuck Fletcher rewarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy winner from the 2019-2020 season

In the press conference following his extension, Fletcher considered Couturier “a rare player.” Aggressively negotiating an extension with the 11-year vet details how critical he is to the success of the franchise. A no-movement clause for the first seven years, followed by a modified no-trade clause in the final season, exhibits just how important he is. Within the organization, Couturier is a no-brainer to build a stable franchise around. Fletcher wanted to extend Couturier before the season, eliminating any distractions while securing the Flyers’ nucleus.

“Sean’s our best hockey player. If he had left, it would have changed the direction of our franchise.”

Chuck Fletcher; 8/26/2021

Fletcher nailed it. Following a horrid 2020-2021 season, he’s finding every groove to repair hockey in Philadelphia.

Eliminating Distractions

Following a dreadful season, Chuck Fletcher vouched for the importance of the locker room all on the same page at the start of training camp in September. Leadership goes a long way with Fletcher’s Philadelphia Flyers. A bevy of leadership candidates resides on the defense he built this offseason. Sean Couturier is also a current alternate captain. Changing the culture long-term takes precedence.

Anytime a superstar player is entering a contract season, negotiations potentially become distractions. Agreeing to an extension a season before his contract expired wiped any doubt of miscommunication between Fletcher and Couturier. Fletcher has been very transparent through his history of negotiations with Flyers players. From Oskar Lindblom to Scott Laughton, and recently with Couturier, Fletcher committed to securing players who positively impact the franchise.

An Inevitable Risk

Time catches up with everyone at various speeds and paces. Through 2029-2030, Sean Couturier is committed to Philadelphia Flyers hockey. 

“Sean’s an elite player right now. To sign elite players, you have to step up and pay the price of a contract.”

Chuck Fletcher; 8/26/2021

Financially, the front end of the extension ages well. The worry resides on the back end, where Couturier will continue to make $7.75mil on a no-movement clause until he’s 36-years-old. Could his body break down? That’s always a terrifying possibility for any athlete. His contributions to the Flyers won’t deflate throughout the next nine seasons, however.

Think of the prospects who will learn from Couturier. Alain Vigneault routinely stresses the importance of a two-hundred-foot game from his forwards. Chuck Fletcher cosigned Vigneault’s philosophy. Couturier will leave his impression on younger players like Tanner Laczynski, Zayde Wisdom, Jay O’Brien, and Bobby Brink

More and more, this agreement between Philadelphia and Couturier reads as a low-risk, high reward decision. Then, consider who could teach Couturier another trick or two. Signing Derick Brassard on a 1yr/$825k deal looks beautiful.

As the pieces change around Couturier through 2029-2030, he’ll remain a constant, perfecting his role as one of the best defensive forwards in all of the NHL.

Relative Market Value

Putting this new deal into context, here are a few other superstar players who are valued higher and lower than Couturier’s new extension: 

A few things here: 

Firstly, the Kevin Hayes contract looks gross relative to Couturier. Secondly, despite their Stanley Cups, the price paid for Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh handcuffed that franchise with Ron Hextall running the show. Lastly, everyone needs to appreciate how Ryan O’Reilly and Couturier are put on the same pedestal by their respective franchises. Couturier and O’Reilly will compare for a long time because they both play a hard-driven brand of hockey. Chuck Fletcher negotiated well, and it’s evident that Couturier wants to be a Philadelphia Flyer.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire