Flyers-Jets: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Jets: 5 things you need to know

On paper, it looked like it would be a tough week for the Flyers. The Senators had won three in a row and the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins had a three-day break, but the orange and black took care of business and came away with two big wins in back-to-back nights.

Now, the Flyers (7-10-1) will try for their fourth consecutive victory when they conclude a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets (9-9-2), who have also won three straight, on Thursday night.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at MTS Centre and the game will be televised on The Comcast Network. Here are five things you should know:

1. The new-look Flyers
If you feel like you’ve been watching a different Flyers team over the past week, it’s because you have.

After netting just 22 goals in their first 15 games, the Flyers have found the back of the net 11 times during their current three-game win streak. More importantly, they’re controlling the puck and playing sound defensively.

In their last two games, the Flyers have turned the puck over just five times while their opponents have had 30 combined giveaways. That’s a big step for a team that had its fair share of bad turnovers in the early going, but are the Flyers actually turning a corner?

“Yeah,” Ray Emery said after the Flyers’ win over Pittsburgh (see story). “I think the last couple weeks, the boys scored more goals, had a great night in Ottawa [Tuesday], and a tough back-to-back against one of our rivals and a really good team in Pittsburgh. Getting a good road win, they’re all steps in the right direction.”

For what it’s worth, the Flyers are now .500 under head coach Craig Berube. They’ve gone 7-7-1 since a 0-3-0 start cost Peter Laviolette his job.

2. Redemp-Schenn
After a rough start to the season, the Flyers have been getting some great performances from the Schenn brothers as of late.

Defenseman Luke Schenn, who was a healthy scratch for three games earlier this month, has looked a lot more comfortable in Berube’s system since returning to the lineup.

The older Schenn was a minus-7 through the first 15 games before he found himself watching from the sidelines. In his last three contests, the 24-year-old is plus-2 with three blocked shots and four hits.

Forward Brayden Schenn has been red-hot. The 22-year-old scored both goals in Wednesday’s win over the Pens and has collected three markers and two helpers in his last three games overall.

It’s an important year for the younger Schenn. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but has said his contract situation isn’t a concern and is focused on being more consistent. It’s shown on the ice, as he is second on the Flyers in goals with six, one behind Vinny Lecavalier, and leads the team in points with 12.

3. Power surge
The man advantage has been an area of weakness for the Flyers most of this season.

However, the Flyers have scored on three of their last five opportunities on the power play and have increased their effectiveness to 13 percent (9 for 69).

They’ll be facing a Jets' penalty-killing unit that ranks 14th in the NHL. Winnipeg has struggled while shorthanded over the past few games, allowing four goals in the last 10 times its been a man down.

4. Jet fueled
There always seems to be one or two players on each team that lights up the Flyers. For the Jets, it’s captain Andrew Ladd and forward Evander Kane.

In his last seven games against the Flyers, Ladd has recorded six goals and two assists. His 10 career goals vs. the orange and black are his second-most against any opponent.

As for Kane, the speedy 22-year-old has five tallies and seven helpers during a nine-game point streak against the Flyers. Kane had four points (two goals) in last season’s three-game season series.

5. This and that
• The Flyers won two out of three games against the Jets last season. In the most recent matchup between the two clubs, Winnipeg came away with a 4-1 win on April 6 at MTS Centre.  

• Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn led the Flyers offensively against the Jets last season. Voracek had five assists while Schenn collected three goals and four points. Blake Wheeler had five helpers for the Jets in the three games.

• Michael Raffl has recovered from the flu and is available to play against the Jets. Winnipeg will be without forward Jim Slater (sports hernia) and defensemen Jacob Trouba (upper body), Paul Postma (blood clot) and Mark Stuart (hip).

• Winnipeg’s Bryan Little is off to a marvelous start. He already has more goals (11) in 20 games this season than he did all last season (seven).  

• The Jets are 1 for 47 on the power play in their last 15 games and have not converted on 17 chances over their last six.

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.