Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
The topic: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension.
The Flyers on Friday re-signed Gostisbehere to a six-year, $27 million contract with a $4.5 million AAV before the 24-year-old hit restricted free agency.
First thoughts on the deal? Yeah, it's a really team-friendly contract.
The defenseman endured some ups and downs in his second year in the NHL this past season and dealt with a few benchings by head coach Dave Hakstol. His offensive output decreased from his eye-popping rookie campaign and he had some defensive hiccups.
There were some growing pains with Gostisbehere in Year 2, but realistically, we should have expected that. Broad Street Hockey's Charlie O'Connor did an excellent job breaking down Gostisbehere's sophomore season through the lens of advanced stats, but let's take a look at the Year 1 and 2 barebone numbers:
Year 1: 17 goals, 29 assists, 46 points, 22 power-play points.
Year 2: 7 goals, 32 assists, 39 points, 23 power-play points.
We can compare Gostisbehere's contract to similar extensions — Stars defenseman John Klingberg is a good example — but for me, the Flyers are paying Gostisbehere as a second-pair defenseman, which I believe is a realistic endgame for "Ghost."
The cap hit is manageable and the term takes Gostisbehere to 30 years old. It's a clear message that general manager Ron Hextall views him as a core piece going forward, but it's also a sign that Hextall doesn't overvalue Gostisbehere based on his rookie season.
It's a safe bet on a young defenseman who's working hard to improve his defensive deficiencies and has already proven he can be a 40-plus point producer from the blue line.
At $4.5 million for six years, sign me up.
Job well done, Ron Hextall.
Like the GM said Friday, Gostisbehere fits the organization's vision moving forward. He is undoubtedly a major piece of the Flyers' future and the deal cements that.
The six years and $4.5 million a season are just fine for me. In fact, those figures could be bargains down the road when you look at other offensive defensemen.
Gostisbehere's mobility and playmaking at the point are game-changers in the NHL. His sophomore slump was more of an aberration and a product of a few things. Although he wouldn't make any excuses at the end of the season, I believe Gostisbehere's offseason hip/abdominal surgeries plagued him early and, as a result, his confidence suffered. That, along with being benched five times and the pressure to produce, forced him into overthinking.
"I know you guys want me to admit it's my surgeries, my injuries, but it's honestly not," Gostisbehere said in April on cleanout day. "You can tell who doesn't have confidence on the ice when they have the puck — you can tell. If it's a guy who's bringing it up and he's looking everywhere and he doesn't have confidence, then you can tell it's confidence.
"I make plays on the blue line, there are plays that I have to do quick, I have to react and I have to have the confidence to do them. I can't do them if I'm thinking like, 'Oh, what if his stick goes there,' I can't. You just have to have a free mind and you have to go out there and play and let your abilities take over. That's what I was learning more and more as the season went on, realizing I had the skills, I just have to trust my abilities."
Once Gostisbehere was himself, his game showed. A play that really stuck out to me was in the season finale when he set up a Wayne Simmonds goal. You can watch it here. This was a confident, free-playing Gostisbehere the Flyers should see in the future — if they allow him to play to his strengths — now that he's locked up for six years.
The new deal between Gostisbehere and the Flyers is a win-win for all parties involved.
"Ghost" not only gets a hefty raise from the $925,000 he was making, but he now has the ever-important long-term security every player wants.
The Flyers, meanwhile, lock up a 24-year-old blue-line cornerstone for the next six years at a very fair price.
Since the start of the 2016 calendar year, Pittsburgh's Olli Maatta, Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen, Anaheim's Hampus Lindholm, Toronto's Morgan Reilly and Nikita Zaitsev, Detroit's Danny DeKeyser and Edmonton's Adam Larsson (then with New Jersey) have all signed similar deals as RFAs. And you can make a legitimate argument that Gostisbehere is more valuable to the Flyers than any of those players are to their respective teams. And that's no disrespect to any of those players.
Gostisbehere, with his mobility, puck-moving skills, shifty finesse and laser beam of a shot from the point, is such a key part of the Flyers' offensive engine. He's not a shutdown pair player, and that's perfectly fine. That's not what his skill set is and he shouldn't be forced to play that way. He's an offensive firecracker for a team that desperately needs scoring punch. And as Gostisbehere's recovery from offseason hip surgery lingered last season, the Flyers' offense sputtered more often than not. Sure, there were other factors involved with that, but Gostisbehere's struggles were a major reason.
Now, with a full summer of rest and training and a year of tough-to-swallow experience under his belt, there are very few reasons not to believe "Ghost" will find that familiar form from his Calder-nominee rookie season. Heck, he clearly found it toward the end of last season when he was the dynamic player we all recalled.
And if he stays healthy, he can be that familiar "Ghost" for the Flyers for the next six years.