Flyers-Capitals: 5 things you need to know

flyers-capitals-matchup.jpg

Flyers-Capitals: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (32-24-6) will wrap up their home-and-home series with the Washington Capitals (29-23-10) on Wednesday night.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center. The game will be televised on NBCSN.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. That’s all, folks
The Flyers and Capitals will clash for the fifth and final time this season on Wednesday. Washington won the first two contests before the Flyers reeled off back-to-back victories in the next two meetings.

Both clubs have 20 games remaining this season and are fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded Metropolitan Division. The Flyers currently hold the second-place position in the Metro with 70 points. The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets are right behind them with 69 points apiece. The Capitals (68 points) and New Jersey Devils (67 points) are also within striking distance of the Flyers.

It’s at the point where every game the rest of the way will have Stanley Cup playoff implications. It’s important for the Flyers to make the most of their divisional games.

Sunday was a perfect example of that. The Flyers rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit and beat the Caps 5-4. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux each tallied three points in the win and Vinny Lecavalier potted the game-winning marker at the 2:45 mark of overtime.

Voracek (four goals, two assists) and Giroux (three goals, three assists) have led the way for the Flyers in the team’s four games against the Caps this season. On the other end of the ice, Joel Ward (three goals, three assists) and Nicklas Backstrom (two goals, four assists) have given the Flyers headaches in the series.

2. Wheeling and dealing
NHL teams can make trades up until 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon but the Flyers and Capitals got a jumpstart on the deadline, both striking deals on Tuesday.

The Flyers bolstered their blueline by acquiring defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for two draft picks and prospect Matt Mangene (see story).

“He’s a great addition for our team,” said Mark Streit, who played parts of three seasons with MacDonald on Long Island. “He’s a good, all-around defenseman. He plays well defensively, blocks a lot of shots and has a good first pass. It’s a really good mix.”

The Flyers now have nine defensemen on the active roster. What’s the next move? Will there be a next move? Anything can happen on deadline day. Stay tuned.

Washington, on the other hand, is likely done making moves. They sent a fourth-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for veteran forward Dustin Penner and shipped Martin Erat and John Mitchell to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Chris Brown, Rostislav Klesla and a draft pick on Tuesday.

Klesla and Brown are expected to join Washington’s AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, but Penner will likely find himself on the Caps’ top line with Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

3. The Ovechkin factor
Speaking of Ovechkin, the Flyers did a fantastic job containing the Russian sniper in Sunday’s win at the Verizon Center.

Ovechkin, who is leading the NHL in goals with 43, finished the game with six shots in 20 minutes of ice time but did not register a point and was a minus-3 for the Caps.

It’s not often the Flyers can say they held Ovie off the scoresheet. The Caps’ captain has 26 goals and 16 assists in 32 career games against the orange and black.

Even scarier, Ovechkin always comes to play in Philadelphia. He has 16 markers and nine helpers in 18 career visits to Wells Fargo Center, including the playoffs.

The Flyers would be wise to stay out of the box. They gave the Capitals six power plays on Sunday and miraculously killed them all off. They won’t get away with giving Ovechkin and Washington’s prolific PP units that many opportunities again.

4. Injuries
Goalie Ray Emery (groin pull) isn’t ready to play just yet. Cal Heeter was recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms on Tuesday and will serve as Steve Mason’s backup.

For the Capitals, Jack Hillen (right tibia) and Mikhail Grabovski (left ankle) are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s tilt.

Aaron Volpatti is on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and won’t suit up.

5. This and that
• Giroux has seven goals and eight assists in his last 10 games.

• Dmitry Orlov, who was assessed a five-minute major for boarding Brayden Schenn on Sunday, will begin his two-game suspension.

• MacDonald had four goals and 20 assists while averaging over 25 minutes a game for the Islanders this season.

• Penner had 13 goals and 19 assists for the Ducks this season. He played on their top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

• Even with a win, the Caps can’t pass the Flyers in the standings. The Flyers hold the tiebreaker by having eight more regulation/overtime wins.

Ron Hextall sees benefit in Brayden Schenn's 'market deal'

Ron Hextall sees benefit in Brayden Schenn's 'market deal'

Expensive at the start, cheaper at the finish.
 
That’s how Flyers general manager Ron Hextall views the four-year, $20.5 million contract he gave Brayden Schenn on Monday morning to avoid salary arbitration (see story).
 
Hextall admitted the club is overpaying up front on the deal, but believes it got a “fair” number for the final two years, when Schenn would have become an unrestricted free agent.
 
“We took a higher cap hit for the first two years and essentially a lower hit than we would have taken in Years 3 and 4 if we piece meal it together,” Hextall said.
 
Hextall said he was walking into the 9 a.m. Toronto hearing with agent Don Meehan already deep in a conversation on a deal but prepared to go through with arbitration.
 
Both parties asked arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier for additional time and completed the contract by 9:45 a.m.
 
Schenn, a restricted free agent, turned down the Flyers’ two-year offer of $4.25 million for this coming season and $4.369 million in 2017-18. That averaged to $4.3 million.
 
His new contract averages $5.125 million.
 
“The benefit for us is our cap number stays flat for four years rather than having have a cap at a lower number, then taking a run at him for two years, if in fact he’d sign for two years at a higher cap number,” Hextall said.
 
Hextall denied he was concerned he might get whacked in arbitration. Yet Schenn has had just one very good season in five years as a Flyer. That was last season with 26 goals and 59 points.
 
Hextall described Schenn as a player who has been “average” in his development, yet has improved in the subtle “intricacies” of the game such as finding open spots, avoiding shot blocks and coming cleanly across the blue line without turning the puck over.
 
Schenn’s true market value is closer to what New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, a 25-year-old right winger, signed earlier this month: a five-year deal worth $23.25 million with an AAV of $4.65 million.
 
Then again, St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal with a $5.35 million AAV. That’s above market value.
 
Meehan originally sought an AAV of $5.5 million for Schenn. In arbitration, it’s likely the Flyers would have received a two-year award in the middle of both numbers.
 
“Nothing really concerned me [about arbitration],” Hextall said. “We had a range and in the end our range was close to what Brayden’s camp felt the range was. Both sides had a range on a two-year deal.

“It’s a market deal. ... Brayden has been a good player. Top-six forwards are hard to find and there’s a premium to pay. There’s no question we paid a premium for a top-six forward who's 24 years old and essentially coming into his prime.”
 
While Hextall labeled Schenn a top-six forward, he tap danced around whether he sees him as a “core” player for the Flyers, even though this makes him the third highest-paid forward behind Claude Giroux ($8.275 million) and Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million).
 
“What is a core [player]?” Hextall asked. “That’s arguable. ... What we do know is Brayden is a very good young player who is getting better and we hope he continues to get better.”
 
This signing leaves the Flyers with just $1.38 million in salary cap space, but with 14 forwards, the club will lose at least one by the end of training camp.
 
Thinking ahead, Jordan Weal could be sent to the Phantoms, shaving $650,000 off the cap. That’s the most likely option for the Flyers, but not their only option.
 
Scott Laughton, whose role was diminished by a strong presence from Nick Cousins, is a lesser possibility. His cap hit is $863,333.
 
Losing either of those two salaries would provide the Flyers over $2 million in cap space.
 
Schenn’s contract lacks a no-trade/no-movement clause that he would have been eligible for starting in 2018-19. He turns 25 in August.
 
The Flyers have one more arbitration to settle: defenseman Brandon Manning on Aug. 2.

Flyers, Brayden Schenn agree to 4-year contract

Flyers, Brayden Schenn agree to 4-year contract

In the end, the Flyers blinked and avoided arbitration Monday morning by overpaying Brayden Schenn with a four-year, $20.5 million contract.
 
The contract leaves the club in a precarious salary cap situation, as the Flyers have just $1.38 million in space now, according to generalfanager.com.
 
The 11th-hour settlement saw the Flyers and Schenn’s agent, Don Meehan, avoid arbitration, which was set for 9 a.m. in Toronto.
 
Meehan was seeking a deal worth $5.5 million for Schenn, who was a restricted free agent.
 
The one Schenn signed will average $5.125 million, according to a source, which still seems excessively high for the 24-year-old, who has had just one excellent season in five full years in the NHL, excluding two partial seasons with the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Schenn had his most productive year last season with career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59), while showing he could play wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Wayne Simmonds.
 
The Flyers and Schenn were more than $1 million apart going into Monday morning with no progress having been made over this past weekend.
 
Why general manager Ron Hextall didn’t risk the arbitration process remains unanswered. The contracts of some players in comparable situations favored a settlement less than what the Flyers agreed to.
 
The Flyers had offered Schenn a two-year deal that would have paid him $4.25 million this coming season and $4.369 million in 2017-18. That’s an average of $4.3 million.
 
New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, a 25-year-old right wing, signed a five-year deal earlier this month worth $23.25 million. His AAV is $4.65 million. That’s the figure the Flyers could have gambled on getting from an arbitrator.
 
They may have been scared away from going through with the arbitration because of the five-year, $26.5 million deal fellow RFA Jaden Schwartz signed with St. Louis earlier that carried a $5.35 million hit.
 
Hextall was not immediately available for comment.
 
TSN’s Bob McKenzie first reported the financials of the contract.

Flyers and Brayden Schenn to go to arbitration

Flyers and Brayden Schenn to go to arbitration

Barring an 11th-hour settlement, the Flyers will go to arbitration on Monday against swing forward Brayden Schenn.
 
The hearing is slated for 9 a.m.
 
The two sides are more than $1 million apart with no progress having been made over this past weekend.
 
“We will probably go to arbitration,” Don Meehan, the agent for Schenn, said Sunday.
 
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall seemed to concur.
 
“I’m not overly optimistic,” he said about avoiding arbitration.
 
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto filed last summer but signed without going to a hearing.
 
The 24-year-old Schenn is the highest-profile Flyer to get this far without signing since John LeClair back in 2000. He received $7 million — the highest one-year award ever.
 
By filing on July 5, Meehan assured his client will get a contract. The Flyers’ qualified Schenn, who earned $2.75 million last season, on June 30.
 
He is a restricted free agent, who could earn close to $5 million a season on his next deal. And that’s the sticky part.
 
Sources said the Flyers offered a two-year deal that would pay Schenn $4.25 million this coming season and $4.369 million in 2017-18 (see story). That’s an AAV of $4.30 million.
 
Meehan wants $5.50 million, which is excessively high given Schenn’s seven-year career thus far.
 
At the same time, if you look at the some of the RFA signings this summer, as Meehan surely has, the comparable numbers would suggest Schenn is worth slightly more than what the Flyers have offered.
 
Two examples here: New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, a 25-year-old right wing, signed a five-year deal earlier this month worth $23.25 million. His AAV is $4.65 million. That’s the correct ballpark for Schenn.
 
Schenn had his most productive year last season with career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59) while proving he can play the wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Wayne Simmonds on the right side.
 
Palmieri had career-highs as well in goals (30), assists (27) and points (57).
 
Problem is, the other end of the spectrum, where Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues sits.
 
The 24-year-old center recently signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal as an RFA with an AAV of $5.35 million. That’s far higher than Hextall wants to go with Schenn at this point.
 
A fractured ankle and subsequent surgery ruined Schwartz’ past season (33 games played), but Blues’ general manager Doug Armstrong looked at what Schwartz accomplished two years ago — career-highs with 28 goals, 35 assists and 63 points – and used that as a barometer for the future.
 
That deal hurts the Flyers here with Schenn.
 
Hextall’s offer suggests the Flyers want Schenn to prove he’s a $5 million player, which means show the Flyers 30 goals and 70 points this season.
 
Schenn finished second in goals to Simmonds (32) and third in points behind Giroux (67) and Simmonds (60) last season.
 
The arbitrator should be able to locate a fair medium. Expect Meehan to ask for a one-year award only.