Philadelphia Flyers

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

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.

Dougherty
Well, this isn't six years, $30 million. Or nine years, $51 million. Or 14 years, $110 million.

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.

Hall
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.

Paone
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.

NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

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NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have lost top center Travis Zajac for four to six months with a pectoral injury.

Devils executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero announced that Zajac had surgery to repair the pectoral muscle on Thursday.

Shero said the Zajac was hurt last week during offseason training.

Dr. Jonathan L. Glashow performed the surgery and estimated that Zajac's recovery time could last until February. The season starts in October.

The 32-year-old Zajac had 14 goals and 31 assists last season. He has 155 career goals and 280 assists. He has played for the Devils since the 2006-07 season.

The 20th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Zajac signed an eight-year, $46 million contract in 2013.

Sabres sign Zemgus Girgensons to 2-year deal

Sabres: Team signs forward Girgensons to 2-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have signed forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year contract.

The team announced the deal Thursday that carries an average value of $1.6 million.

Girgensons, from Latvia, is the last of the Sabres' restricted free agents to sign with the team. Buffalo's first-round pick in 2012 has 37 goals and 49 assists in 277 career games over four seasons.

He skated in a career-best 75 games last season after signing a one-year extension last September.

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed center Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The extension runs through the 2024-25 season, similar to the eight-year, $100-million extension superstar captain Connor McDavid signed with the team in July.

With the signings, the Oilers are banking on McDavid and Draisaitl providing a potent one-two punch for the team as it looks to build on last season's return to the playoffs after a decade of futility.

Draisaitl, a 21-year-old German, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) last season, his third in the NHL.

He finished eighth among NHL scorers, and second on the Oilers behind McDavid.

He led the Oilers in scoring during the 2017 playoffs, posting 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Oilers at the 2015 draft (see full story).

Avalanche: Hobey Baker winner Butcher now free agent
College hockey's top player is an NHL free agent after former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher allowed a deadline to pass without signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and had until Tuesday to sign the Hobey Baker Award winner who led Denver to a national championship in April.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Butcher already has had discussions with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and NHL-expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The person said Butcher has not yet narrowed his list, and is also talking with other teams.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

The Denver Post first reported the three specific teams expressing interest in Butcher (see full story).

Wild: Cullen comes home for 21st NHL season
The Minnesota Wild and center Matt Cullen have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, bringing him back to his home state for a 21st season in the NHL.

The Wild announced the deal, which includes $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, on Wednesday.

Cullen played the last two years with Pittsburgh, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Penguins. He played three seasons for the Wild from 2010-13, his first return to Minnesota since launching his career at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State.

Cullen, who will turn 41 on Nov. 2, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 72 games in 2016-17 for the Penguins, plus two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He has played in 1,366 career regular season games, the sixth-most among active players (see full story).